A 'disappointingly' low number of people have presented to the new pop-up coronavirus clinic for screening since it opened on Monday.
Hunter New England Health (HNEH) launched the clinic ahead of the NRL Knights versus NZ Warriors clash at Tamworth's Scully Park, on Saturday.
HNEH public health physician Dr David Durrheim believes there are people in the Tamworth community with cold and flu-like symptoms who aren't showing up for a swab.
"The numbers have so far been disappointing ... only 29 people made use of this service on Monday and only 47 made use of it on Tuesday," Dr Durrheim told the Leader.
"It's worrying because we know that there are people with the usual winter cold viruses out there who would have sniffles and would have a sore throat and we really need to make sure everybody with those mild symptoms gets tested."
The pop-up clinic at Tamworth hospital has the capacity to screen up to 200 people per day for COVID-19. Dr Durrheim said the numbers show complacency may be becoming "our worst enemy".
"What we found in Port Stephens was just one visitor from Sydney set off a cluster of seven and closed a school and a childcare, and had the community on edge," he said.
"The possibility of reintroduction of the virus is there, particularly when you have a large sporting event with people potentially crowding that gives the virus a real opportunity of spreading."
Dr Durrheim praised the precautions in place for the NRL clash, like limiting spectators to people who live in the 2340 postcode, which has been free of COVID-19 for more than four months. But, he said no symptom of COVID-19 should be ignored.
"The roads and the rail are open ... so none of us can feel at this stage that the virus is far away, and while there is still virus circulating in Sydney, there is still the risk of it hitching a ride with somebody," he said.
Despite the call for more people to book in for a COVID-19 test, Dr Durrheim said the authority was focused on testing people with symptoms, though they can be as "trivial" as a scratchy throat or runny nose.
The drive-through clinic will be open seven days a week both this week and next, at Ring Road near Tamworth hospital. Bookings must be made by calling 1800 881 568.
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