More COVID-19 cases in Newcastle region, Upper Hunter MP says Muswellbrook case is 'safe'

© ABC Hunter residents are being advised to wear masks and come forward for testing at the slightest flu symptoms.

There have been 18 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the Hunter New England district, with the bulk of new infections coming from the Lake Macquarie area, south of Newcastle.

Vaccination figures released today also show the immunisation rate is improving in the Hunter region, but most local government areas (LGAs) within the district are tracking below the NSW average.

Muswellbrook, which was released from stay-at-home orders last week, recorded one new case.

The eight cases in Lake Macquarie were in Mount Hutton, Toronto, Booragul and Coal Point.

There were five cases in Newcastle, including three in Tarro, while Mayfield and Jesmond reported one case each.

There were two cases in Maitland, and one in Cessnock.

Only six people were in isolation for their infectious period, and the source of four cases is being investigated.

Muswellbrook records first case this outbreak

Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell said it was unlikely Muswellbrook would be returned to lockdown.

“This is someone who has transferred up from Sydney, quite legitimately, according to the rules and that household now has gone into isolation,” Mr Layzell said.

“We do not believe there will be any venues of concern.”

Hunter New England Health (HNEH) confirmed while the case was “low risk” it was still being investigated on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Layzell said the community should expect more cases announced in the coming days from the infected household.

“To the wider community, we believe it is safe and therefore a good case not to change any lockdown restrictions,” he said.

He said the people in the household had not broken any rules and pleaded with the community to “show compassion”.

An HNEH spokesperson said it would “like to see testing numbers in the Muswellbrook region increase” and encouraged residents to monitor for symptoms.

Vaccine rates lagging behind

Port Stephens and the Upper Hunter Shire are the best performing council areas in the Hunter for vaccination rates.

They are the only two LGAs in the region that have half their population fully vaccinated and are not far behind the statewide average.

In Newcastle, 75 per cent of the population has had one jab, while 42 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Muswellbrook, Singleton and Cessnock have some of the lowest double-dose rates in NSW, which is less than 40 per cent in those areas.

Last week, the Mayor of Cessnock called for a vaccination hub to be set up in the Hunter Valley to help more locals get the jab.

Of the eligible population in NSW, 53 per cent has received two doses of a vaccine.

Local government area

1st dose %

2nd dose %

Cessnock

70

36.9

Dungog

78.3

48.3

Lake Macquarie

79.6

49

Maitland

75.3

42.7

Muswellbrook

68.6

34.1

Newcastle

75.2

47.4

Port Stephens

80.9

50.1

Singleton

74.4

37.6

Upper Hunter

82.6

51.2

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