A number of Shoalhaven residents have expressed concerns over potential local exposure locations not being listed on the NSW Health website, with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District saying that sites are only released when they are considered "high-risk".
A spokesperson for the ISLHD said venues of concern are only disclosed unless there is a public health reason, which explains why some rumoured locations circulating on social media pages have not been listed online.
"NSW Health does not disclose details about venues of concern unless there is a public health reason," said the spokesperson.
"When a confirmed COVID-19 case attends a venue while possibly infectious, NSW Health carries out a risk assessment on that venue to determine whether other people may have been exposed, and whether there is a public health risk.
"NSW Health takes proactive steps to contact all close contacts of the case, to give advice on testing, isolation, symptoms to be aware of, and their level of risk.
"Where a high-risk exposure venue is identified from the case interview, QR code information is used to identify and inform people who may have been exposed at that venue."
One contact tracer per 25 COVID cases
ISLHD acknowledged that the Delta outbreak and growing case numbers has created significant challenges for the health system, including the public health response.
The Australian Defence Force has been pulled in to provide support for the more than 1000 staff working to trace confirmed cases and their contacts.
There are currently more than 25000 active COVID cases in NSW.
Ward slams contact tracing processes
On Monday Kiama MP Gareth Ward said a number of Shoalhaven residents have been left in the dark about potential contact with a COVID case.
Mr Ward slammed the contact tracing notification process and said locals have been coming to him with questions about local exposure sites after not being able to find the information online.
He added that Shoalhaven residents could not do the right thing without access to timely information through a trusted source.
"Our community found out about these cases through social media and media reporting or the business owners advised their customers via email or media," he said.
"I assumed that when a person has tested positive for COVID that their QR check-in data would be cross-referenced with all persons checked-in at the same venue at the same time.
"For example, Bunnings Nowra had a confirmed case on the 31st of August. People who attended the venue still haven't received a text message to advise that they were a casual contact.
"People have a right to know if they were in possible contact with a COVID case.
"The fact that this process is taking over a week is totally unacceptable and could allow for the virus to spread whilst casual contacts remain unaware of information that NSW Health has in its possession."
Hancock ensures cases are under control
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said she has been inundated with queries about potential exposure sites in the community.
"Constituents are coming to me all the time to ask where the cases have been and what the venues of concern are, and why other venues haven't been released. They have been asking why Bunnings is the only venue of concern," she said.
"Bunnings is the venue of concern, because the COVID case was there for quite some time.
"It's important to note that the other venues, where there has been minimal contact for a very short time, and only possible contact with a COVID case, are not up on the NSW Health website."
Mrs Hancock assured the local cases were under control due to contact tracing and are isolating, with only one local case under investigation.
There are now 14 active cases of COVID-19 in the Shoalhaven, with two new cases announced on Wednesday.
Close contacts of confirmed cases must get tested and complete 14 days' self-isolation, even if their initial test result is negative.
Casual contacts must get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, is urged to immediately get tested. Even people with mild symptoms, such as fatigue, new muscle aches or pains, a change in taste or smell or a new runny nose, should get tested.
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