COVID-19: Major milestone reached for virus in Northern NSW
While cases of COVID-19 are still rearing their head around the country, the Northern NSW Local Health District has something to celebrate.
The area has officially been without a locally-acquired case of the disease for 200 days according to local health authorities.
However, they are warning people to stay vigilant, as cases had emerged in communities after long periods of no cases throughout Australia.
Chief Executive of NNSWLHD Wayne Jones, praised the community for continuing to present for testing.
"It's very pleasing that local residents continue to be tested, with over 1,600 tests each week throughout late January and early February," Mr Jones said.
"We continue to urge anyone who feels unwell to come forward immediately for testing, then isolate until they receive a negative result."
Mr Jones thanked the community for their ongoing support and adherence to the public health orders and safety measures, and reminded the public of the need to remain vigilant against the virus, both in the community and in health facilities.
"In all settings, we're asking the public to continue to heed the advice of health staff, and that means using COVID-safe check-ins at venues, wearing a mask if asked to, performing hand hygiene and maintaining 1.5 metres distance from others," Mr Jones said.
"We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support our communities have shown to our health staff who are working hard to help keep us safe."
The last positive case in NNSWLHD was reported on 25 July, 2020. There have been 67 cases across the health district, with 62 overseas or interstate acquired, 4 locally acquired as a contact of a confirmed cases, and 1 locally acquired with an unknown source.
Meanwhile, it will become quicker for people to take COVID tests thanks to a new process for hospital testing clinics.
During February, all four hospital testing clinics in Northern NSW Local Health District will roll out the new personalised Quick Response (QR) code registration process, meaning people will be able to quickly register to receive their test result with a simple scan on a smartphone.
The new method will have patients given a personalised QR code printout, which once scanned will automatically set up their SMS result registration using the details already entered into the testing clinic's computer system.
"Using this new process, we're reducing both the time taken for a patient to register for the SMS result notification, and the possibility of data being incorrect or mismatched," Mr Jones said/
"It's now a one-step scan, rather than having to enter multiple pieces of personal information over a series of text messages.
"For our community members who may speak another language, it will help reduce barriers for them to register to receive their results via SMS.
"If patients need help to register, our clinic staff are right there and can walk them through the process."
A project team involving NSW Health Pathology, eHealth and Clinical Information System teams from Northern NSW Local Health District has been working for several months to develop the localised technology and systems to support the improved registration method.
Patients who have used the new QR code system at Lismore Base Hospital have said it was 'much easier' and 'user-friendly'.
NSW Health Pathology pioneered its COVID-19 SMS Results Service to help the public get faster, convenient access to their results given the high number of COVID-19 tests being performed.
The majority of negative results are provided by SMS within 24 hours and has significantly reduced time waiting for results and in self-isolation.
Health authorities have said private pathology providers may deliver results differently, so it is important for people to check with the clinic where they are tested for their preferred notification service.
There are more than 300 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW. To find your nearest clinic visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-andothers/ clinics or contact your GP.
To help stop the spread of COVID-19:
- If you are unwell, get tested and isolate right away - don't delay. Remain
isolated until you receive your test result.
- Wash your hands regularly. Take hand sanitiser with you when you go out.
- Keep your distance. Leave 1.5 metres between yourself and others.
- Wear a mask when using public transport, rideshares and taxis, and in shops,
places of worship and other places where you can't physically distance. When
taking taxis or rideshares, commuters should sit in the back.