TAMWORTH has now surpassed the one month mark without a single new COVID-19 case being diagnosed in the city.
Hunter New England Health's (HNEH) chief public health controller Dr David Durrheim has previously indicated it would take 28 days nationally without new cases emerging to indicate the virus had been eradicated.
More than 3,000 people were tested at the Tamworth hospital drive-through clinic before it wrapped up on Friday afternoon, after three weeks of testing.
Despite widespread testing, the last diagnosis for COVID-19 in Tamworth was 31 days ago from a mystery source.
The city's coronavirus case count remains at 13, and 12 patients have made a full recovery. One woman - a 58-year-old - died in mid-April.
The 58-year-old died of complications from the infection at Tamworth hospital on April 16, and her positive test result came back on April 17.
Dr Durrheim said the only way the virus will flare in the HNEH region is if someone imports it. He said an "extraordinary increase" in testing had failed to reveal a single new case in the Hunter and New England districts since April 22, 26 days ago.
On the weekend, pubs, cafes and restaurants started resuming in-house trading after the state relaxed restrictions.
One new case was diagnosed in NSW on Sunday, up from three new cases on Saturday, the state government announced on the weekend.
Now, Dr Durrheim said the danger is people moving, and he expected to see more inter-regional movement as restrictions eased.
"This is the risk that faces us now," Dr Durrheim said.
"We do know there are cases every day in Sydney, small numbers, normally single-digit numbers, but not all of them are people who are in quarantine. There is still come community transmission in Sydney.
"As people begin to move, and we get groupings of people getting together, then the risk exists certainly for re-importing the virus into Hunter New England."
Drive-through clinics will begin at hospital on Monday in Gunnedah and Inverell and Glen Innes.
Dr Durrheim encouraged people to maintain social distancing and hand washing while catching up with friends and to stick with the five-visitor limit at home.
Public Health Act orders prohibit holidays in regional areas. Residents can visit family and friends in Sydney, but Dr Durrheim discouraged such trips.
"Now is the time to catch up with nearby friends and family ... rather than embarking on broader travel," he said.
HNEH said 240 out of the 278 confirmed COVID-19 patients had now recovered. Four people have died.
Heath authorities have hit brick walls trying to find where some locals contracted coronavirus. A number of mystery COVID-19 cases with an unknown source of infection are still listed as under investigation in Tamworth, Moree, Gunnedah, Tenterfield and Armidale local government areas.
- with Michael Parris
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