Police probe illegal gathering reports as COVID cases in the Illawarra surge to record highs

Police have begun investigating reports of an illegal gathering in the Illawarra as the region endures its worst day of the pandemic. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

Police are investigating reports that a gathering held south of Wollongong last month breached public health orders as COVID cases in the Illawarra hit record highs.

Lake Illawarra police are conducting inquiries into allegations posted on social media about a gathering in Berkeley last month.

In a statement police have urged anyone with information not to post it online but instead report it to them.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has urged the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) to clarify whether the gathering contributed to the current outbreak.

"It is important that if they are not true that we should be able to rule that out and do that publicly," Mr Barilaro said.

"There is one thing about protecting people's privacy, but we should also protect people from somehow being hunted down and rumours becoming reality."

There are 17 active cases in Berkeley and 36 in adjacent suburbs.

John Barilaro is urging theLHD to clarify "rumours" about an illegal gathering. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)

Record numbers

Today the ISLHD recorded 34 new infections, the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in any region outside Sydney.

It is the region's largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.

There were 24 cases in Wollongong, seven in Shellharbour, two in the Shoalhaven and one in Kiama, bringing the region's total to 220.

Exposure sites are also rising, with cases visiting multiple supermarkets and medical centres.

There were positive cases in two Wollongong apartment blocks.

In the past week five schools have been forced to close after a member of the school community tested positive for the virus.

Hundreds of patients at a medical clinic have been told to isolate after a doctor and nurse tested positive. (Supplied: Wingecarribee Shire Council)

Patients exposed

In the Southern Highlands a medical clinic has contacted hundreds of patients suspected of being close contacts of two staff members who tested positive for COVID-19.

A doctor and a nurse at Regal Medical Centre in Mittagong tested positive for the virus on Monday.

"What we do know is that that clinic had around 200 patients through its doors last week," Southern Highlands Division of General Practice chair Vincent Roche said.

"The time of concern is from Monday the 30th to Friday the 3rd of September.

Dr Roche said contact tracers were lagging behind the clinic, which alerted the patients who attended the clinic last week and told them to get tested and isolate.

"We do not know at what time they became positive or at what time they became symptomatic," he said.

"The public health unit is therefore working on under the assumption that it could have been those five days."

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