SCHOOL students in Lake Macquarie and on the Central Coast have tested positive to COVID-19 as the Hunter works to find the source of a "very high viral load" detected in Newcastle sewage.
There are also fears the virus could extend closer to Newcastle after Glendale's Target department store was closed for deep cleaning and named an exposure site.
Maitland Christian School parents were also told the school had closed immediately after it was informed by NSW Health that two students had tested positive.
Maitland councillor Philip Penfold tweeted a screenshot of an email from the school saying it would be "non-operational immediately" for deep cleaning and contact tracing.
"Please collect your children immediately - even if you are an essential worker," the email said.
The Newcastle Herald contacted Maitland Christian School and was told to email questions to principal Geoff Peet, because "I do have to keep the lines clear".
Swansea MP Yasmin Catley raised the alarm on Wednesday night about the Lake Munmorah cases, which are understood to relate to the same family as the Morisset case.
Wyong MP David Harris confirmed both Lake Munmorah Public School and Morisset High School had closed after the positive tests to at least three student.
"Last night unfortunately a family has tested positive closing two schools," he said on Thursday morning.
"Now hundreds of children and families will be on edge waiting to find out if there's been further spread."
Police are urging Hunter drivers to be patient at testing sites as demand skyrockets.
Mandalong Road is experiencing delay back to the M1 Motorway as police conduct an operation around Morisset Showground.
Traffic is also congested in both directions on Hillsborough Road and around Warners Bay.
Lake Munmorah principal Narelle Baldwin said in a statement late on Wednesday night that NSW Health had advised two students at the school had tested positive.
Messages to parents at Morriset shared on social media, which were almost identical to the statement from Ms Baldwin, indicated one case had been identified at the Lake Macquarie high school.
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"Our school will be non-operational effective immediately for the on-site attendance of staff and visitors to allow time for contact tracing and cleaning," Ms Baldwin said.
"All staff and students are asked to self-isolate until you receive further advice.
"While we recognise this will be disruptive and inconvenient for families, it is important that we follow NSW Health advice and take all necessary precautions to minimise the risk of further transmission to support our community."
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the primary school had "fortunately" been closed to almost all students in recent weeks as it fell within the Greater Sydney lockdown footprint.
"I have not had advice regarding the families and household contacts of those students, but I think it would be a good idea if everyone stayed put until we received further health advice," Mr Piper warned on Thursday morning.
"I'm aware that Target at Glendale has been closed for deep cleaning but I am not aware of any other exposure sites at this stage.
"We will know more later this morning."
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said the Glendale store had been identified as a venue of concern and closed for deep cleaning.
"Anyone who attended on Sunday 1 August between 8.30am and 1.30pm needs to urgently present for COVID-19 testing," he said.
"They should self-isolate from their household, and remain in self-isolation until further direction is received from NSW Health regarding classification as close or casual contacts."
The positive cases and exposure site alerts confirm the worst fears of Lake Macquarie residents after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant on Wednesday issued a warning that sewage testing had found traces of COVID-19 in effluent at Belmont, Shortland and Burwood waste treatment centres.
John Hunter Hospital, Maitland Hospital and the University of Newcastle drive-through testing clinics have all temporarily extended their hours after an influx of people seeking their services.
Large queues had formed at the university before 8am on Thursday.
The red alert for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie came just days after thousands of people were informed their booked Pfizer vaccine appointments were cancelled so the doses could be sent to Sydney Year 12 students.
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