With the Queensland/NSW border now open, NSW Health Pathology’s laboratory in Lismore is ready for any possible surge in demand for COVID-19 testing.
Glenn Hawkins, Manager of Microbiology at NSW Health Pathology’s Lismore laboratory, said his team is already conducting diagnostic COVID-19 testing for samples collected around northern NSW, recently hitting a milestone of 20,000 tests.
“Our laboratory is currently averaging around 300 diagnostic COVID-19 tests per day, however we have the capacity to test up to 400, if needed,” Mr Hawkins said.
“We test COVID-19 patient samples collected at NSW Health public hospitals and mobile clinics as far south as Grafton, up to Tweed Heads and across to the coast.”
Lismore is part of NSW Health Pathology’s network of 12 specialist laboratories across the state conducting COVID-19 diagnostic testing; around half of which are in regional areas.
The availability of local COVID-19 testing in regional laboratories will deliver greater testing capacity and faster turnaround times for local communities. Fast, accurate testing enables early diagnosis and management of COVID-19 cases, which is vital for the protection of the community and to curb the spread of the virus.
NSW Health Pathology’s Lismore laboratory is also set up for rapid PCR testing, to be used for high-risk, high-priority cases where an urgent diagnosis is needed.
These include the elderly, acutely unwell patients, or those with pre-existing or chronic health conditions.
Rapid testing is now available at 37 NSW Health Pathology labs across the state. NSW Health Pathology reviews its state-wide testing network daily to ensure reliable, timely testing is available where it is needed.
NSW has one of the highest COVID-19 testing rates in the world. A total of 1,218,155 tests have been done since testing began, including 15,903 over the past 24 hours. NSW Health Pathology has been working hard since the outset of the pandemic, conducting almost 60 per cent of these tests and averaging 7,500 a day.
NSW Health Pathology has also now received more than 350,000 registrations for their pioneering SMS Results Service that has halved the average waiting time for negative results.
“As restrictions ease gradually, it is crucial to come forward for testing, even if you only have minor symptoms, to ensure we keep community transmission at bay,” Mr Hawkins said.
“Anyone with flu-like symptoms, no matter how mild, should get tested. Common symptoms include cough, sore or scratch throat, shortness of breath or fever.”