THE NSW Government has announced there is now capacity to double the number of COVID-19 tests in the state from around 4000 tests per day to 8000.
Patients can get a referral for testing from their GP, then go to a pathology lab.
Northern NSW Local Health District is also operating four specialty COVID-19/Flu clinics at Byron Central Hospital, Grafton Base Hospital, Lismore Base Hospital, and The Tweed Hospital, that don’t require a GP referral.
Ballina’s Grant Street Clinic pandemic team co-ordinator, Dr Nick De Marco, welcomed the change in policy by the government.
“We feel the best way forward for the country is to increase testing and we welcome the increased availability of testing options,” Dr De Marco said.
“We welcome being able to refer more people for testing where it is clinically appropriate as a result of changes to policy.
“Increasing testing capacity will allow the community to get back towards normality faster, reducing the economic and social impacts of the disease.”
Dr De Marco said the clinic’s own response to the pandemic had been rapid, developing an innovative outside clinic which protected staff and patients.
He said having external examinations in the car park clinic allowed the practice to retain face-to-face service for all their patients.
He said the clinic moved to the point of creating its own personal protective equipment like face shields just in case the nation was to run out of supplies.
The number of cases for Northern NSW was 56 as of April 22, while in NSW, as of April 23 an additional seven cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed, bringing the total to 2982.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said from now, all people with symptoms of COVID-19 should come forward for testing.
“People with symptoms, including mild symptoms, are encouraged to be tested to ensure we identify as many cases of COVID-19 in the community as quickly as possible,” Dr Chant said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. the state had “one of the highest testing rates in the world and we want to see this boosted even further.”
“From today, anyone in NSW who has COVID-19 symptoms should come forward and get tested,” she said.
“Testing is key to reducing community transmission and dealing with local breakouts – and this is critical if we are going to lift any restrictions.”