Tamworth is punching above its weight with COVID-19 testing rates, however we are urged not to get complacent with another outbreak not off the table.
It comes as the government introduces hefty $11,000 fines and threatens jail time for anyone travelling to and from Melbourne hot-spot suburbs from NSW.
Public health physician Dr David Derrheim from Hunter New England Health District says we must not become complacent with testing, social distancing or hygiene measures as restrictions ease further.
While pleased with the testing rates in Tamworth and Armidale, sitting above the state's average of 9.5 per cent, the rest or the region needs to pick it up.
"Around 11.2 per cent of Tamworth's population has been tested, so they are doing very well in that regard," Dr Derrheim explained.
"Armidale is sitting at 10 per cent, but it is much lower throughout the rest of New England, with only six to seven per cent of the population tested."
We cannot sit on our laurels after having tested well so far. We need to detect cases as soon as possible.Dr David Derrheim
He said with people moving around, travelling, and getting out and about in town, the risk of another COVID-19 outbreak spreading throughout the community is high.
"We cannot sit on our laurels after having tested well so far. We need to detect cases as soon as possible."
That means even if you've been tested before, those with even the slightest symptoms of cold or flu, sore throats or any other COVID symptoms should get tested immediately.
My preference would have been an elimination approach. But that's clearly not in the political decisions at federal or state level in Australia.Dr David Derrheim
With outbreaks in Melbourne reaching new milestones, he says he would like to see the borders completely closed.
He said the approach in Australia so far has been based on suppression of the virus, rather than an elimination approach like New Zealand has undertaken.
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"My preference would have been an elimination approach. But that's clearly not in the political decisions at federal or state level in Australia.
"I am very concerned about the cases occurring in great Melbourne area beyond ... so I strongly urge that unless absolutely urgent - defer any trips until the Melbourne situation has come under control."