TESTING clinics for COVID-19 are being set up in Tamworth and Armidale as Hunter New England Health (HNEH) launches a one-week testing blitz in the two cities.
Specialised drive-through clinics at the Tamworth and Armidale hospitals will open, with the week-long testing blitz set to start on Monday, April 27.
HNEH are still working hard to trace the source of infection for a number of mystery coronavirus cases in the New England North West, which has prompted the need for increased testing.
In Tamworth, authorities haven't yet worked out where a woman who died in Tamworth hospital last week - the first COVID-19 death in the region - contracted the deadly virus.
There is at least one patient in each of the Moree, Tamworth, Armidale, Tenterfield and Gunnedah local government areas that has an unknown source of infection.
It has been revealed the coronavirus first hitched a ride into the Nothern Tablelands on a train from Sydney, carrying passengers who had been overseas.
As case numbers stabilise across the district, the health authority said it is trying to map the spread of COVID-19 by targeting areas with relatively low testing rates.
Public health physician Dr David Durrheim said the only way to rule out a COVID-19 problem is to test people.
"Our goal for blitz week is to push testing rates as high as possible so we can be absolutely sure there is no COVID-19 risk for the people in these towns. We don't expect to find big numbers of cases - or indeed many at all - but testing is the only way we will know for sure," he said.
Dr Durrheim said locals showing symptoms of the infection like a fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath should get tested.
Residents who have been overseas, on a cruise ship or in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should also get tested.
The blitz will start on April 27 in both Tamworth and Armidale.
"If you don't have symptoms or risk factors but are concerned about your health, you can also contact your local clinic to arrange testing," Dr Durrheim said.
The Tamworth clinic will operate between 9am and 4pm from Monday to Sunday May 3.
HNEH have asked people to call 1800 881 568 during testing hours to register before attending the clinic.
The Armidale clinic will be open from 10am to 2pm on Monday through to Friday May 1.
HNEH have asked people to call 0427 923 080 between 9am and 4:30pm on testing days, to register before attending.
The drive-through clinics are expected to be available for a limited time period, but could be extended depending on demand.
Authorities have asked anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate at home until they have received further advice from their GP or hospital.
Moree has also been the target of a testing blitz recently.
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