LABOR CALLS FOR COVID-19 TEST CRITERIA TO BE BROADENED

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NSW Labor is calling on the Berejiklian Government to immediately expand testing to everyone reporting COVID-19 symptoms on the Central Coast and in Canterbury-Bankstown, Bayside, Georges River and the Sutherland Shire.

Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park noted that these LGAs have some of the state’s highest case numbers for COVID-19 - and questioned why they haven’t qualified for more testing under new criteria issued by the Government.

In an Australian first, the Queensland Government has already declared the Central Coast, Sutherland Shire and Canterbury Bankstown to be virus “hotspots” - and is forcing anyone returning to Queensland from these areas to self-isolate for 14 days.

Testing in NSW has generally been limited to returning travellers or known contacts of confirmed cases. However, NSW has now made testing available to anyone reporting symptoms in areas like Blacktown, Westmead and Liverpool - after doing so for places like Ryde, the Eastern Suburbs, Broken Hill and Port Macquarie last week.

Mr Park questioned why the Central Coast, which has 105 cases - the 5th most of any LGA - has been left off the list.

Other areas with high case numbers (including community transmission cases) where test criteria has not been broadened include:

- Sutherland Shire (88 cases, 7th most of any LGA)

- Canterbury-Bankstown (85 cases, 8th most of any LGA)

- Bayside (63 cases)
- Georges River (58 cases)

- Newcastle (55 cases)

- Wollongong (51 cases)

“While we welcome any expansion in testing for COVID-19, it’s vital that anyone who needs a test can get one in any part of NSW,” Mr Park said.

“The Central Coast, Sutherland Shire, Canterbury-Bankstown, Bayside, Georges River, Newcastle and Wollongong all have significant presence of COVID-19 - and often higher case numbers than areas where the criteria to get a test have been relaxed.”

“If Queensland is requiring anyone who has been on the Central Coast, Sutherland Shire or Canterbury-Bankstown to self-isolate for 14 days, then NSW should be fully testing its own residents in these locations.”

“We have 351 cases of community transmission in NSW where the origin of the infection is unidentified - and it is vital that we bring that number down.”

Labor has pushed from the start of the COVID-19 outbreak for everyone with symptoms to be tested - in line with the World Health Organization advice to “test, test, test”.

Labor believes it is long overdue to test all aged care workers - particularly in light of the potential contamination at a facility in Caddens, in Sydney’s west.

It is also urging the NSW Government to test more than 1000 crew aboard the Ruby Princess - where the infection rate of those tested so far is an extraordinary 50%.

For more information on NSW testing criteria and case numbers by location, visit https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/covid-19-lga.aspx

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