Testing for COVID-19 in the community needs to continue despite the absence of new cases for eight days on the North Coast.
Testing for COVID-19 in the community needs to continue despite the absence of new cases for eight days on the North Coast.

COVID-19: Relaxed testing not a sign to be complacent

RELAXATION of the rules to be eligible for COVID-19 testing should not be interpreted as a sign to relax precautions in place to deal with the disease say health authorities.

A spokesman for the Northern NSW Local Health District guidelines for testing had been relaxed so people with even mild respiratory symptoms could be tested for COVID-19

NSW Health said the new regime would allow authorities to conduct 8000 tests a day to further build its picture of the presence of the disease in the community.

Health authorities on the North Coast said this would have little effect on its facilities as there had been no new cases in the region for eight days.

A spokesman said people were not showing symptoms, so the relaxation of testing guidelines was unlikely to create an increase in demand.

He said since the pandemic began there had been 4560 tests down to detect 56 cases of the virus.

"This is an infection rate of 1.23 per cent," he said. "That's 18 cases per 100,000 of population, which is among the lowest in the state."

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said as people prepared to commemorate Anzac Day, extreme caution was still required.

"I can't see there's going to be any real relaxation of the lockdown anytime soon," he said.

"Maybe when the schools go back (on Monday) there might be more opportunity for parents to go back to work, but I can't see the pubs, clubs and theatres opening for some time."

Mr Gulaptis said until the development of a vaccine, the social distancing rule would remain in place.

He was encouraged there had been no new cases in his electorate for more than a week, but said it was too early to say the disease had been contained.

"The incubation period is around 14 days I believe, so you can't say for sure cases here have been contained."

He said there was still the possibility a person from outside the region could bring the virus here.

"It started from one person in Wuhan," he said. "It might be painful to accept that we have continue the lockdown, but the virus has shown how quickly it can spread."

Mr Gulaptis said he could understand the frustration of people who wanted to do what they considered "harmless" activities.

"I might consider going out somewhere out of the way to be harmless, but I don't want to pay the fine if the police catch them," he said.

He said the recovery from COVID-19 was going to much slower than its onset.

"We are going need to be cautious and careful at every stage of the recovery," he said.

"The one thing we don't want to have here is a second wave of infections after all the good work the community has done."



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