Rapid virus tests
Saturday, 18th April, 2020
By Emily McInerney
Broken Hill now has access to rapid testing for emergency coronavirus cases with an hour-and-a-half turnaround.
Far West Local Health District Chief Executive Umit Agis said during the week that they had access to a repurposed GeneXpert machine.
“We will be using that for emergency purposes not as a routine; we only have limited kits available,” Mr Agis said.
“We will be using that for patients who may come to hospital who are very unwell, not necessarily due to COVID-19 but with another illness.
“We may need to test them quickly to know if they need to be transferred to a medical ward.”
Mr Agis said in further good news, the two positive cases of COVID-19 in the city had both recovered and were out of quarantine.
He said they are not aware of anyone in the Far West with the COVID-19 illness.
“That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but from our tests and results we’ve had no further positive cases.”
Mr Agis said half the tests had been conducted in the city and the rest across the region.
“To date we have conducted 408 tests and apart from the two positive cases we had originally had - there have been no further positive results.
“The COVID clinic alone had 233 tests since the end of March.
“Our call centre has received over 800 calls.”
Mr Agis said tests continue to be sent to Sydney via road courier.
“I haven’t had any reports that there had been any delays in test results; but we had liaised with the Health Ministry and that is how we received the GeneXpert.
“We are still testing, the early signs are very positive. But I think that is due to messaging around social distancing and hygiene.
“We still need to be alert, we’re still expecting numbers to increase.”
Mr Agis said they continue to liaise with the Local Emergency Management Committee about travel restrictions to the town.
“The LEMC have considered a number of actions which will restrict access to Broken Hill.
“I think being labelled as a ‘hotspot’ has also discouraged potential visitors from coming to Broken Hill.”
He said locums and travelling specialists from South Australia will have to quarantine when going back to Adelaide.
From last week, it was revealed that this wouldn’t be the case.
“That had been rescinded, it is unfortunate - but I understand the position from the South Australian government.
“They were concerned because we are a hotspot - this is a precautionary measure.
“They are reviewing this daily.”
Mr Agis said, in the meantime, they have increased their telehealth capabilities.
“Any patients that need to do so - will be sent to Adelaide until further notice.”
He said increased testing was creating a good sample of the community.
“To identify potential risks, we have begun temperature testing everyone who comes to any of our facilities.
“It includes visitors, patients, families, our contractors and our staff.
“People who come to the clinic can also nominate to receive their negative test results via text messaging.”