VAX THE NATION

Inverell, Armidale, Glen Innes, Boggabri testing rates soar following Moree COVID-19 scare

TEST RISE: HNEH's Susan Heyman said that opening up on Thursday - on its normal off day - the Inverell Hospital drive-through clinic conducted 30 tests.
TEST RISE: HNEH's Susan Heyman said that opening up on Thursday - on its normal off day - the Inverell Hospital drive-through clinic conducted 30 tests.

COVID-19 testing rates have climbed since the Moree COVID-19 scare, in a ripple effect that's spread right throughout the New England region.

It's now hoped that the desire for tests will follow through in more people getting vaccinated to prevent a possible widespread outbreak.

Executive Director Rural and Regional Health Services for HNEH Susan Heyman said that they've seen an increase in testing rates in Inverell, Armidale, Glen Innes and Boggabri.

She said that opening up on Thursday - on its normal off day - the Inverell Hospital drive-through clinic conducted 30 tests.

"The numbers have increased right across the board," she explained.

Armidale has seen an increase in testing as well - with the clinic open Monday to Friday 12 to 3pm, also open on public holidays.

Ms Heyman is hoping there will be a corresponding rise in people booking in to get vaccinated, as testing clinics expand their hours to accommodate the demand.

She states there is no issue with supply of both the AstraZeneca and the Pfizer vaccines to Inverell, despite the tyranny of distance across the board for rural communities.

"Across our rural areas, we've got the issue of distance and geography, and some vulnerable communities as well," she explained.

"We are doing everything we can, and the PHN are working hard, to make sure we have vaccinations available and accessible to wherever people who need them are located."

In light of the wave of negative results with not one positive test returned, Ms Heyman hoped it would act as something of a wake-up call to rural communities.

"This testing is just reaffirming that people want to do the right thing," she said.

"It's a reminder to people that COVID is ever-present, and that we need to adhere to those precautions.

"If people have any of the symptoms like fever of coughing or sore throat, or loss of smell associated with COVID, they should be getting tested and being careful about what social situation they are presenting at.

"That's a timely reminder that people need to be vigilant about those precautions, social distancing or the use of masks, hand hygiene, some of those basic steps."

This story Hopes that New England's testing boom results in vaccination uptake first appeared on The Inverell Times.