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Virus tests hit new high

Saturday, 21st November, 2020

Motorists queue outside the Drive Thru Testing Clinic at the Community Health in Crystal Street on Thursday when a record 61 people were tested. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Motorists queue outside the Drive Thru Testing Clinic at the Community Health in Crystal Street on Thursday when a record 61 people were tested. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily Ferguson

There had been a steep rise in COVID-19 testing numbers locally over the past few days due to the corona virus situation in South Australia, according to Far West Local Health District Chief Executive, Umit Agis. 

“We have seen is a significant increase of people making themselves available for testing both at the Thomas Street Clinic and the Drive Thru,” Mr Agis said. 

The health service experienced a record testing number on Thursday with 61 people going through the Drive Thru in a space of about three hours, he said.

“That’s by far the maximum we’ve had since we started the Drive Thru. It’s more than we’ve had at any single sight to date.”

As part of the precautions and directive from the NSW Public Health Order, the Far West LHD implemented screening at the airport and the bus terminal for those arriving from Adelaide.

“We’ve got our team out there screening everyone that comes off the plane and if they have been to any of the eight areas of concern, we’re asking them to self-isolate for 14 days and if they have symptoms they will be tested straight away,” said Mr Agis. 

“The other thing that has emerged as part of our Public Health Order is that people are required to declare if they have been to any of the eight areas of concern before coming to the state.

“People who may not be aware will be asked to declare at the point of screening at the airport. We’ve also covered the buses as well.

“Anyone who is coming in at the moment we’re encouraging to be tested because we don’t want to take any chances.”

The Chief Executive said those arriving by car should also get tested.

“I think the community has responded to that call. As I said in the last three days, we have seen a massive jump in terms of our numbers both at the Thomas Street Clinic and also the Drive Thru.

“We don’t have a great deal of control as to who’s coming into the state... so we are encouraging people to come forward and be screened and tested. We want to be erring on the side of caution, we want to test as many people as possible coming back from South Australia into Broken Hill or the Far West.

“I think this is a critical point for the Far West at the moment. We don’t know the extent of the transmission in South Australia, the numbers may grow, so I really urge our community to be vigilant and present themselves for testing if they’ve been to those eight areas that are  being put up as areas of concern, but even outside those areas if you’re concern just present for testing whether you have symptoms or not,” he said. 

The Far West LHD has also implemented new visitor restrictions at hospital. 

As of yesterday, all adult patients  will be restricted to one nominated visitor per day for one hour. 

Visitor hours have also been changed to 11am to 12 noon, and 6pm to 7pm. 

“These visitor restrictions will remain in force until further notice as an added precaution to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in the health service and thereby in the community as well,” Mr Agis said.

Depending on the demand for testing, the Far West LHD may consider additional services for testing. 

“We’re monitoring what the demand is and we’ll make a decision as to whether we increase our testing capabilities on the weekends, in particular in Broken Hill,” he said.

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