There were 103 more positive cases across the entire health district in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, taking the total since August 5 to 1995.Some 69 of those cases in the Hunter.Newcastle (18), Cessnock (16), Lake Macquarie (15), Maitland (12) and Port Stephens (8) all recorded fresh positive cases.There were also 19 cases in Tamworth, 13 in the Mid North Coast and two in Gunnedah.Some 53 cases were in isolation for their entire infectious period, 41 were infectious in the community, and nine are still under investigation.Seventy-nine cases are linked to known exposures or clusters, 15 are unlinked, and the source of nine cases is under investigation.WEDNESDAYA top health official has warned Hunter residents to “be sensible” as lockdown restrictions ease amid high case numbers in the region.The Hunter New England Health District has recorded 82 new Covid infections, including 66 in the Hunter.The local cases were at Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook.Additional cases were recorded at Tamworth, Gunnedah and Mid-Coast.“We need to be sensible, and being sensible at the moment really is about just keeping in place those measures that have kept us safe so far,” Dr David Durrheim said.“Mask wearing, the distancing, avoiding crowded environments while we catch up and hopefully eventually pass Sydney with our vaccination rates.”Sixty-two of Monday’s cases were linked to known infections while 47 were infectious in the community.Twenty-four Hunter people are in hospital with Covid including three in intensive care.The cases take the health district’s total to 1768 since the beginning of the Delta outbreak on August 5. Of those, 1136 remain active.Statewide, infections have continued to fall with 496 new cases. Eight people have died.Meanwhile, flights to and from Newcastle have been listed as exposure sites after a Virgin crew member worked while infectious with Covid-19.Six flights between October 4-6 including two Newcastle routes have been identified.October 4: VA219 from Melbourne to Adelaide 10:11am to 11-09amOctober 4: VA218 from Adelaide to Melbourne 11:38am to 1:19pmOctober 5: VA827 from Melbourne to Sydney 09:09am to 10:32amOctober 5: VA808 from Sydney to Melbourne 11:16am to 12:53pmOctober 6: VA1593 from Melbourne to Newcastle 12:56pm to 2:19pmOctober 6: VA1594 Newcastle to Melbourne 3:02pm to 4:38pm“Anyone who was on the flights at the time and date listed is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were there, regardless of the result,” NSW Health said in a statement.“NSW Health sends a text message to people who have checked in at close-contact venues with further information. “We also contact close contacts to advise of isolation and testing requirements.”Concern over the exposure risk has heightened after a South Australian teen tested positive for the virus after travelling on one of the flights from Melbourne to Adelaide.Hunter’s reopening: Customers get their retail fixOne of Newcastle’s major shopping centres Charlestown Square was a hive of activity for some retail outlets on Monday as fully vaccinated customers were welcomed back to browse until their heart was content.Clearly top of the list was a haircut and tidy up, with a line up at Barber Industries continuing throughout the day.“There is so much to look forward to with health and beauty services, entertainment and general retail re-opening as well as the festive season just around the corner,” Charlestown Square Centre Manager Kate Murphy said. “The safety of our staff, retailers and shoppers is our number one priority and we have followed NSW Government guidelines to ensure a successful re-opening.”Husband and wife team Tara and Nic Poelaert were just glad to be back trading again, after a long lockdown break forced them to close down.The Hunter couple who run kiosk style cafe Choux Patisserie at the major shopping centre said it’s been great to finally welcome back their customers.“It’s been nice, slower than expected, but we really didn’t know what to expect,” Ms Poelaert said.“A lot of our customers are the employees of the shops around so to see customers who are friends after so long, it just feels great to have a purpose again.”“I do love what I do and there is something very satisfying, because it is our business, that we can share it with people again.”But the return to trade will be extremely busy for the pair who will have to put in the extra hours, now on the hunt for staff.“We have no extra staff to rely on for coming weeks, that’s been the complication of many hospitality businesses especially cafes, they are all advertising for staff,” she said.“Staffing is difficult in hospitality businesses around the availability, the competition for the jobs and maybe people that have tried to use this time as an opportunity to change careers.”Meanwhile, eager customers flocked to Charlestown Square’s Big W store with a line of about 100 ready and waiting early this morning for the doors to open, and browsing to begin.High on the agenda for shoppers were toys, appliances and apparel a big hit for its reopening.“There was such great energy throughout our NSW stores today, as our teams welcomed many excited customers back through our doors to shop safely with us,” A Big W spokesperson said.
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