While it still has by far the most confirmed cases in Australia, the spread of the coronavirus in New South Wales is being successfully slowed, with fewer and fewer daily confirmed cases being registered. Mandatory 14-day quarantine of Australians returning from overseas has cut off one of the most prolific sources of infection, but community transmission – the spread of the illness from person to person without a traceable origin – continues to be of concern. In an effort to clamp down on community transmission, NSW Health has announced that anyone with flu-like symptoms living in certain suburbs of Sydney and areas of NSW is now eligible to be tested for Covid-19.
Initially, testing was focused on returning travellers and those who had been in close contact with them. Now, NSW Health has identified certain neighbourhoods in which clusters of the virus are developing. Anyone in Sydney's Inner West, Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, Ryde, Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland and Westmead can be tested for exhibiting symptoms regardless of whether they have had known contact with someone infected. In many people, Covid-19 presents as a very mild illness, with symptoms as innocuous as a slightly sore throat or light cough, but health authorities are urging Sydneysiders from these identified suburbs to get tested even if they only have minor signs of sickness. Outside of Sydney, Manning, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle have also been pinned as Covid-19 hotspots.
The ability of authorities to contain community transmission will help governments gauge when and how physical distancing measures can be relaxed and eventually lifted. Federal minister Greg Hunt stated that right now, the biggest concern in Australia was the potential for undiagnosed cases within the community to spread the virus without being aware they themselves were infected.
While there are currently positive indicators that the coronavirus curve is flattening in Australia, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has warned that this is not the time to be complacent. If you're exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms, make sure to call ahead to your GP or a dedicated coronavirus clinic before you visit to inform them of your symptoms and receive treatment.