Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms in Victoria and parts of New South Wales can now be tested for COVID-19. Testing in most Australian states and territories was previously limited to people experiencing certain symptoms who had either travelled overseas in recent weeks or been in close contact with a confirmed case. But now Victoria Health and NSW Health have both confirmed they will expand testing criteria in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease.
As of today, Victoria will have the widest coronavirus testing in the country, according to the ABC. Anyone with relevant symptoms such as a fever or acute respiratory symptoms will be able to be tested at any of the 40 screening clinics located around the state. Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said that by upscaling testing, the Government would be able to gauge the spread of COVID-19 in coming weeks and hopefully bring community transmissions under control.
"The focus has been on return travellers, now we want to make sure we track down every case of the virus," Mikakos announced during a press conference this morning. "We're putting in place the most generous, widest testing criteria in the nation, if you have fever or acute respiratory symptoms; a cough, shortness of breath."
NSW Health announced similar measures, but has limited this to areas of the state that are considered to be at risk of wider community outbreaks—mostly in and around Sydney. These outbreak centres including Sydney's inner west, Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, Ryde, Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland, and Westmead. Anyone with flu-like symptoms in those areas will now qualify for testing.
The expansion of these measures comes as Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt declared that “the curve is coming down… the rate of growth is now well below two percent a day. But our most significant fear is that there are undiagnosed cases within the community, which is why we’re testing broadly.”