COVID-19 cases rise in low-vaccinated Queensland Aboriginal community Cherbourg

The first cases of COVID-19 ever have been detected in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg, 250 kilometers northwest of Brisbane.

The first case was discovered on Wednesday and two more cases have been confirmed today.

Residents are being asked to stay home and be vaccinated before the outbreak worsens.

“We believe two of them are connected and another is a close contact of another case,” said Darling Downs Health, acting COVID leader Bede Wilson.

The original case on Wednesday resulted in 22 close contacts – 7 of whom were from Cherbourg according to the local council.

The Aboriginal community is closest to the state capital, and just under 60 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to federal government figures.

A man in a shirt with a collar is standing in front of a building.
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Chatur Zala says the community is concerned but prepared.(ABC Southern Qld: Jon Daly)

Residents are encouraged to stay home and skip the NYE festivities

The community’s elder and Wakka Wakka man Eric Law said the aggravated outbreak was a reminder of the importance of vaccination.

“When this situation hits home, and now it has done so, people may have a different attitude to vaccination,” he said.

“At the end of the day, what else do we have?

The Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council urges residents to stay home and skip New Year’s Eve to stop any further spread.

“We are concerned but hopefully our messages reach the people and I think they will stay at home unless it is for significant reasons,” said Cherbourg Council CEO Chatur Zala.

“Our messages are very strong at the moment to curb the movement in society.”

Sir. Chatur said unnecessary visits outside the community should also be curtailed.

One person in mask and face shield gives another person a vaccination.
Health authorities are urging unvaccinated members of the local community to step forward to take a shot. (ABC Southern Qld: Jon Daly)

The authorities are preparing for several cases

Sir. Chatur said the council was well prepared for several cases and had identified homes for quarantine and food storage to help families in isolation.

According to federal government figures, Cherbourg has lagged behind in terms of vaccinations with only 58 percent of residents over the age of 16 being double-dosed.

Sir. Wilson said health care had knocked on the doors of every home to offer vaccines, and the community responded well to calls to be vaccinated and tested.

“We’ve done over 150 tests over the last two days and more again today.”

More than 3,500 vaccine doses have been administered to local and surrounding residents at the local hospital and health service so far.

Law said his message to society was to “stay calm”.

“The hug will come if those numbers rise,” he said.

“We do not want to see any panic happen.”

Another time-in-vaccination clinic is open from tomorrow at the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service.

COVID-19 testing is also available every day at Cherbourg Hospital.

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