One in fifteen in the remote, predominantly indigenous towns of Wilcannia in western New South Wales has COVID-19, which is five times the worst hotspot in Sydney.
Of the 882 locally acquired new cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday, 49 are in the western and far west of the state.
There are nine new cases in Wilcannia, which have caused food shortages and are rushing to vaccinate vulnerable people.
With a population of 745 in the 2016 census, there are currently 58 outbreaks in the town, two hours from the nearest city, Broken Hill.
The infection rate is much higher than Sydney’s worst hotspot municipalities.
According to NSW Health data, about 1 in 80 people in Cumberland LGA are infected with the virus.
At Dowel LGA, that number is about 1 in 160.
Locals have expressed concern that Wilcannia’s food supply is in short supply and that local health care providers are not equipped to handle the outbreak.
Meat is sold out and the town’s only supermarket, which was closed for thorough cleaning earlier this week, could be exposed again.
A local health spokesman told AAP that the town has one ventilator.
But in a live video on Facebook this week, Berkinji woman Monica Carwin said the only equipment she was afraid to have was a body bag.
Only 6.3% of the Aboriginal population in western New South Wales is fully vaccinated, compared to 26% of the region’s non-indigenous population.
This group was identified earlier this year as a vaccination priority because the underlying health problems are more common among Aboriginal people and their life expectancy is lower than other populations.
The call to raise money to deliver food, including fresh meat, to remote towns has raised more than $ 140,000 in donations.
Food relief charity food banks are also helping out, distributing over 2030 kg of food hampers to the region last week.
Outbreaks at Dubbo’s regional hubs continue to grow.
Twenty-five more new cases were diagnosed on Thursday, five for Burke and four for narromine and orange.
There are currently 445 outbreaks in the western community health district (346 in Dubbo) and 64 in the westernmost population.
Scott McLachlan, chief executive officer of the New South Wales Western Regional Health Department, said Bathurst and Orange could soon explode into hundreds of incidents like the nearby Dowel.
At least 33 cases have been diagnosed in Orange and 19 cases in Bassert.
He said only 3,700 people were tested “very unfortunately” throughout the region on Thursday.
“This is the lowest we’ve seen in a few weeks, so I’m really worried about seeing this continuous decline,” he told reporters.
“Only four days ago, we surpassed 10,000 tests per day across the region.”
More than 150 fines have been issued across the region for violating public health orders (50 for dowels and more than 25 for oranges).
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