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Anyone with a ‘scratchy throat’ should get tested for coronavirus, says NSW Health

No matter where you live in NSW, if you have a cough, temperature or a sore throat, you should get tested for coronavirus.

NSW has widened its testing criteria to include anyone with symptoms as daily testing numbers continue to drop and cases of community transmission remain a concern for health officials.

More than one-third of the state’s 2886 confirmed cases are locally acquired, and more than 350 of those cases have not been linked to a known source. Testing has also dropped from a peak of 4500 tests last week to 1305 on Tuesday.

Earlier this week testing was ramped up in council areas deemed at risk of wider community outbreaks in an effort to tamp down on the local spread of coronavirus.

On Wednesday morning, Premier Gladys Berejiklian particularly urged people in council areas including Penrith, Inner West, Liverpool, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra, Blacktown, Cumberland, Westmead and Ryde.

“It is really important for us to manage the spread, control the spread by clamping down on these people who are getting community-to-community transmission,” she said.

University of Sydney Emeritus Professor of public health Stephen Leeder said while statistics on the number of travel-related cases was looking good, the proportion of community-related cases was causing the most concern.

“Not seeing a downturn in the number of community acquired infections surely alerts us to the fact that community transmission is out there,” he said.

Professor Leeder said health authorities were in a “position of some luxury” thanks to a decline in the number of returned travellers needing testing, enabling them to “extend the net” of testing to anyone with even mild symptoms.

“What we want to know is where this thing is,” he said. “We just can’t afford to let these things go.”

It comes as NSW Health works to manage an outbreak linked to the Anglicare Newmarch House aged care facility at Caddens, near Penrith. Almost 100 staff and residents are in self-isolation while six staff and four residents have tested positive, after a healthcare worker continued to attend work while they were experiencing mild symptoms.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said that the incident showed that anyone with symptoms should stay home.

“It doesn’t matter how mild those symptoms are – runny nose, sore throat, just a scratchy throat in this case – please don’t go to work,” she said.

“I would particularly urge you, if you work associated with providing care to the elderly, the aged and disability, to have that incredibly high awareness of even minor changes in your health.”

NSW Health urged anyone who has symptoms including a fever or cough to go to a free COVID-19 clinic, their local GP or a nearby hospital for testing.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald. Written by Rachel Clun.

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