Push for higher COVID testing rates across NSW as state records one new local case

Health authorities in NSW are urging residents to get tested for COVID-19 due to concerns the virus is still circulating in the community undetected, as the state records one new local case on Saturday linked to a western Sydney cluster.

NSW recorded one new case of locally acquired COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, as well as 11 in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

The one locally acquired case is believed to be linked to the Berala BWS liquor store cluster in western Sydney.

"Investigations into the source of the infection are under way," NSW Health said on Saturday morning.

"NSW Health is treating 100 COVID-19 cases, one of whom is in intensive care."

In an update on Saturday morning, Dr Chatu Yapa from NSW Health said it is "very likely that COVID-19 is continuing to circulate in the community among people who have mild or no symptoms".

"It is vital that we pick up every case of COVID-19 if we are to prevent further community transmission, and the best way we have of doing this is maintaining high testing numbers," Dr Yapa said.

Testing numbers have dropped significantly this week, with 14,547 tests carried out to 8pm on Friday night, with 16,070 recorded the day before.

Last week, testing numbers were nearly double that figure.

"Anyone who is experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms, no matter how mild, is urged to isolate immediately, get tested and continue to isolate until a negative result is received," Dr Yapa said.

"This is particularly important in areas where there have been recent cases, including western Sydney, south-west Sydney, the Northern Beaches and Wollongong."

Victorian border update

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged that his government may be announcing changes to the border restrictions with NSW on Sunday.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Mr Andrews said while he was "not in a position" to make any announcement on Saturday, his stance could change in the next 24 hours.

Currently, Victorians who are stuck in red zones in Sydney still need to make an exemption application for travel into the state.

"I wish I could make those announcements today [about NSW], but we are simply not in a position," he said.

"Tomorrow will be – depending on results today and of course tomorrow – will be the seventh day of zero local cases [in NSW].

“There are some parts of Greater Sydney that have already reached that milestone, but the public health team just want another day or two to be able to be absolutely firm in their view that we can safely have those Victorians from the majority – it won't be all of Sydney, but certainly from a strong majority – of those 35 Local Government Areas."

More to come

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