Coronavirus Australia: Residents of several NSW areas urged to test for COVID-19 if they feel ill

Residents of 12 areas of New South Wales have been told to contact a doctor immediately for a COVID-19 test if they feel unwell, regardless of whether they are of a particular risk of contracting coronavirus. The local government areas and suburbs cover a swath of inner city, northern and western Sydney as well as regions around Newcastle and the mid north coast.
Despite the low numbers of people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the last 24 hours in NSW, health officials are worried about possible local transmission in parts of the state.
There are now more than 6300 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 61 deaths. Nine people were diagnosed with coronavirus in NSW yesterday bring the state’s total infections to 2863.
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Speaking this afternoon, NSW Health acting director Dr Christine Selvey revealed the coronavirus hot spots where residents were being urged to get tested for COVID-19 if they felt ill.
“These are areas where there have been a few cases with people where we are unable to find out where they got their infection from and some other areas where we are concerned that if the spread of the virus was occurring, we would certainly want to know about it,” said Dr Selvey.
Residents of the Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland, Inner West, Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick and Ryde local government areas in Sydney as well as the western Sydney suburb of Westmead are being asked to remain vigilant.
The same advice is in place for Lake Macquarie, close to Newcastle, and the Manning Valley on the NSW Mid North Coast.
“In these areas, if they have even very mild symptoms, (patients are advised to) present to their GP or to one of the COVID-19 clinics or to a hospital and seek testing,” she said.
The general advice has been for people to only seek a COVID-19 test if they have returned from overseas, have been in contact with someone who has travelled or if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive.
However, residents in those areas can now ask for a test simply if they are feeling unwell with similar symptoms to coronavirus.
NSW Health has set up a number of mobile COVID-19 testing stations in known hot spots including at Bondi Beach. The iconic Sydney beach is in the Waverley council area, one of the LGAs where all unwell residents can now ask for a test.
“We’re testing in those areas because we want to make sure that if community transmission is happening, that we are able to know that and that people with COVID-19 are identified early and their contacts traced to interrupt any more spread of the virus in those areas,” Dr Selvey said.
Most people who have tested positive for coronavirus have brought it into Australia from overseas in some form, including on cruises.
These cases are now relatively easy to manage through quarantining overseas arrivals and cruise passengers and testing close contacts.
The big concern is local community transmission where there is no known source for the infection.
If coronavirus spreads unnoticed within local communities it could lead to a surge of new cases just as the Government is looking to contain numbers.
Local transmission now accounts for half of all new cases, although total infection numbers, including those of local transmission, are falling.