The NSW Premier says there is a high viral load of COVID-19 in a number of Newcastle sewerage systems, which could indicate undetected cases in the region.

The detections were found in the Shortland, Burwood and Belmont sewerage treatment plants.

The Burwood Beach sewage catchment serves 225,834 people and includes the Newcastle City area and surrounding suburbs of Dudley, Charlestown, Jesmond, Lambton, New Lambton, Mayfield, Elermore Vale, Kotara, Garden Suburb, Adamstown Heights, Kahibah, Highfields, Merewether, Waratah West, Georgetown and Carrington.

The Belmont sewage catchment serves 115,000 people and includes Belmont, Warners Bay, Gateshead, Tingira Heights, Bennetts Green, Jewells, Redhead, Eleebana, Croudace Bay, Valentine, Marks Point, Blacksmiths, Pelican, Swansea, Swansea Heads, and Caves Beach.

The Shortland sewage catchment serves 60,000 people and includes Shortland, Cameron Park, Minmi, Fletcher, Maryland, Birmingham Gardens, Wallsend, Callaghan, Sandgate, Kooragang, Mayfield West, Fern Bay, Fullerton Cove and Stockton.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant says she is calling on all of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie to get tested.

“Particularly Birmingham Gardens, Shortland, Maryland, Fletcher, Minmi, Cameron Park, Mayfield, Stockton and Fern Bay.

 “It is critical that we can get testing levels up to understand as soon as possible any undiagnosed cases there so that we can make the best public health decisions,” Dr Chant said

Up until now, the Hunter has been largely spared of the virus during the latest outbreak. Two service stations in the Hunter were placed on the health alerts list as being visited by a COVID positive person. No cases as yet have emerged from those alerts.

Shortland sewerage treatment plant.
Image: Hunter Water