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NSW rolls out Covid-19 testing statewide and prepares to relax social restrictions

The state is also increasing its mental health infrastructure

Written by
Maxim Boon

The NSW government is rolling out Covid-19 testing across the state, it announced on April 24. Previously, testing was only encouraged for those living in certain ‘hot spot’ areas of Sydney or those who work with people considered most vulnerable to the disease, such as aged care workers and disability carers.

In recent weeks, NSW has been expanding both its testing capacity and its intensive care facilities. The state has more than doubled the number of ICU beds available and is on track to reach its ultimate goal of quadrupling its critical care infrastructure. NSW is now able to carry out 8,000 tests every day, including at weekends. In the 24 hours before this announcement, 7,352 tests were carried out, revealing just seven new cases of the coronavirus. 

This increase in testing and ICU capability are considered essential for the state to be able to ease stringent social restrictions, although exact details of when and how these sweeping regulations would be relaxed are yet to be announced. NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian emphasised that relaxing restrictions would inevitably lead to an increase in cases.

NSW chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant has asked that anyone with even mild symptoms – “a slight cough or a scratchy cough” – be tested, as this disease presents with minor symptoms in the majority of carriers. She also asked anyone who is worried or who suspects they might have come into contact with someone infected to be tested, even if they are not exhibiting symptoms.

Full details of where testing centres are located across the state is available here

The state also announced extra investment in mental health provisions, acknowledging that the uncertainty and social hardships many Australians are experiencing at present is creating a need for greater mental health support. Some 180 new mental health clinicians will be now be working across the state, and the capacity of NSW’s primary mental health hotline – 1800 011511 – will also be increased. Those living in remote or rural communities will also be able to access virtual mental health teams online.

Unclear on what you can and cannot do under the current restrictions? Check out our handy cheat sheet.

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