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COVID-19 testing rates are down in the Upper Hunter; fears we're getting complacent


Testing rates for COVID-19 have dropped across the board in the Hunter New England Health District (HNEH) and particularly in the Upper Hunter.

NSW Health figures show that in the second last week of August in Muswellbrook 306 people were tested and at the end of last week that had dropped to 64; in Singleton for the same time period it's dropped from 623 tests to 152 and in the Upper Hunter Shire it's dropped from 260 to 62.

HNEH Public Health Physician Dr David Durrheim says it's a dramatic decrease in testing.

“Some of that we can understand, the winter cold virus has obviously stopped circulating but there are other things at this time of the year, particularly hay fever that gets us sniffly and so there are people with symptoms that probably aren’t getting tested,” he said. 

“I think that we’ve all got a little but relaxed off the job that’s been well done, but now is a really important time to refocus and make sure we keep doing those important public health things that keep us and our families safe.”

“The results are generally available now within 24 hours which is fantastic.”

“I think people have put in a marvelous effort and we’ve all done what we need to do, we’ve all stepped back keeping that 1.5 metres between us and others and getting tested,” said Dr Durrheim.

There has been an increase in testing in NSW, but a lot of that increase has been in Sydney where there's been some local outbreaks of the virus. 

“Most of that increase has been in western Sydney so people have gotten really nervous again. The virus is obviously not gone, there’s been these mystery cases and little clusters in Western Sydney and we all need to remain very alert because it could happen anywhere.”

There's a big push for people to get tested now with school holidays having wrapped up and people who have been travelling around going back home.

“There were a huge number of Sydneysiders that flooded north, that the possibly that one of them or more bringing the virus with them is very real so the next two weeks are very important in particular if anyone develops any symptoms to isolate and get tested,” said Dr Durrheim. 

You can find the opening hours for testing clinics here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/clinics.aspx

Tags: coronavirus