TAMWORTH COVID-19 testing rates have soared, with an increase of about 250 extra swabs recorded week-on-week for the last three weeks.
Executive manager for the local Primary Health Network John Baillie confirmed the rise in numbers. He said it wasn't unexpected in the midst of winter, on top of the spiralling case count in Victoria and what was now unfolding down in Sydney.
"When you put it in the context that it's flu season and cold season ... these numbers are consistent with that," he told the Leader.
"The events in Melbourne and greater Sydney are of concern to people and as a result of that, they are looking to get tested."
More than 880 locals have fronted up for a swab in the past two weeks, according to data from NSW Health.
Friday will mark three months since the last COVID case was diagnosed in Tamworth. Despite no new cases in the city, Mr Baillie said ongoing testing is key to stopping the spread.
We are only one case away from an outbreak.PHN manager John Baillie
"We are only one case away from an outbreak," he said.
"Unless you have a swab, we can't tell whether you've got the flu or whether you've got COVID."
With the region now fairly deep into the flu season, Mr Baillie said people were heeding the message and getting symptoms like sore throats, runny noses, fevers and coughs checked.
"Right across the region we're seeing increased testing and that's because people have symptoms and people are getting tested," he said.
He reminded locals that restrictions might be easing, but vigilance cannot afford to slip.
"With increased interaction and easing of restrictions around social gatherings, there is an increased risk," he said, urging locals showing symptoms to contact their GP or call the COVID-19 helpline on 1800 020 080 to arrange a test.
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