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No signs of deadly virus

Saturday, 16th May, 2020

The ‘drive-thru’ testing clinic at the Musicians Club carpark. The ‘drive-thru’ testing clinic at the Musicians Club carpark.

By Emily McInerney

The city has been COVID-free for six weeks and the health service is seeing an improvement in flu presentations compared to this time last year.

Almost 912 tests have been conducted for COVID-19 in Broken Hill, and the city has been COVID-free for more than 40 days.

Testing at the ‘drive-thru’ station had been a success with 70 tests conducted.

“The rate of testing is quite high, but it is very pleasing at our end,” health district chief executive Umit Agis said during the week.

“We will review it to see whether we should continue.

“It’s been a resounding success in our point of view.

“We conducted 24 tests on the first day - I think the community is telling us that this is the right strategy.

“It is convenient and by lowering the testing criteria - it is easier to be tested.”

Mr Agis said the temperature readings had also been lowered.

Originally, a person would have to have a temperature of 38 degrees or above to be tested.

Now it has dropped to 37.5 degrees, other symptoms that encourage testing are aches and pains, cough and flu-like symptoms.

“As restrictions ease, please be aware of the current testing criteria and if you have any of the symptoms please attend our clinic,” Mr Agis said.

In terms of the cold and flu season which will hit soon, Mr Agis said it’s business as usual.

“We are making available the flu vaccine to more vulnerable communities like Balranald where they can call and make an appointment through the clinic.

“That’s been taken up quite successfully; about 400 have gone through already.

“We are certainly making that available for all vulnerable communities in all our towns.

“We are expecting testing numbers to increase as it gets colder.

“But having said that, we haven’t seen the same numbers that we had this time last year.

“That’s partly because of the hygiene practices and the social distancing that people have been practicing.

“That has the added benefit of limiting transmission of the flu virus; which is quite a lesson that has come out of this crisis.

“If you observe social distancing and are aware of infection and how it is transmitted - we’ve seen it lower numbers of the flu virus.”

Mr Agis said despite restrictions easing over the weekend, he still strongly encouraged people to follow all social distancing and hygiene practices.

Testing around the region remains steady with 16 tests conducted at Wilcannia, 17 in Menindee, two in White Cliffs, one in Ivanhoe and five in Balranald.

Tibooburra hasn’t required any testing.

“There is plenty of stock and we are still sending them to Sydney for results; if we need them quickly we will use the GeneXpert machine.”

Mr Agis said with the SA government also allowing medical travel across the border, they are getting back on track with surgeries.

“We are slowly building up our capacity again,” he said.

“People are able to go to Adelaide for medical travel without the 14-day quarantine; but they are advised to only go to their appointments.”

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