CONFIRMATION a COVID-positive person attended at Coffs Harbour pub last week has driven a surge in the number of people being tested for the virus across the Mid North Coast.
There was a two hour wait for testing at the Port Macquarie Regional Stadium drive-in testing site on Monday, July 19 after the news the Hoey Moey pub at Coffs Harbour was confirmed as an exposure site by NSW Health.
NSW Heath said a COVID-positive person visited the Hoey Moey bottle shop on Thursday, July 15 between 3.55pm and 4.10pm.
Anyone who attended the venue at the times listed is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result, and call 1800 943 553 unless they have already been contacted by NSW Health.
Despite other media reports and several social media posts by local MPs there were other "venues of concern" in Coffs Harbour, sparking initial widespread confusion, NSW Health had only listed the Hoey Moey as a primary exposure site after conducting investigations.
NSW Health also confirmed it does not disclose details about venues unless there is a public health reason.
Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) has thanked the community for coming forward in record numbers for COVID-19 testing, with more than 1,200 tests conducted in the region on Monday.
More than half of those tests were undertaken at Coffs Harbour, which from 12 noon Tuesday (July 20), will have a drive-through clinic in operation at the International Stadium.
Chief executive Stewart Dowrick said since the Bondi cluster began in mid-June there had been increased testing across the district, but the past 24 hours had seen a surge in local testing. In the past week just over 3,200 tests have been conducted.
"Thank you to everyone who has come forward for testing so far, helping to protect themselves and their communities," Mr Dowrick said.
"I would particularly like to acknowledge and thank the 653 people who attended our Coffs Harbour clinic for testing yesterday. Our staff did a fantastic job ensuring everyone was tested and although at times there was a long wait, we greatly appreciate the effort our community has made.
"Today's opening of the drive-through testing clinic at the stadium will enable us to increase our testing capacity and hopefully reduce waiting times."
People do not need a referral or a booking to visit any the drive through, pop up or hospital clinics in the region. Click here to find a clinic near you.
Mr Dowrick encouraged people to remain vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms and to get tested for even the mildest of symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, cough, breathing difficulties, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
"We don't want people to dismiss their symptoms as a cold, we want them to get tested to confirm it's not COVID-19," Mr Dowrick said.
In the last four weeks, more than 14,802 tests have been conducted across the Mid North Coast. Of those, there have been 1,861 in Kempsey; 6,520 in Port Macquarie; 4,552 in Coffs Harbour; 1,018 in Nambucca and 5,110 in the Mid Coast (Taree, Forster, Gloucester) local government areas.
Testing numbers remain high at Port Macquarie, Kempsey, South West Rocks, Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour, Mr Dowrick said.
The Port Macquarie COVID-19 testing clinic moved from Lake Road to a drive-through clinic at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on June 28 as testing numbers increased due to the Sydney outbreak.
Sewage surveillance testing is another tool in the fight against COVID-19.
Sewage testing is ongoing at Dunbogan, Bonny Hills, Port Macquarie, South West Rocks and Coffs Harbour.
Demand for vaccination appointments spike
Demand for vaccination appointments has also spiked with clinics between Kempsey, Port Macquarie and Taree booked up to four weeks ahead.
The Seascape Medical Centre at South West Rocks reported the "majority" of phone calls had been COVID-related since NSW Health announced the Hoey Moey as a primary exposure site on July 15.
Seascape office manager Leigh Kelly said there had been steady demand for vaccination, and the practice had been doing AstraZeneca inoculations two days a week, and Pfizer one day a week.
"We're booked three to four weeks ahead, with a few little gaps here and there," Ms Kelly said.
"We've been so lucky and people need to take it more seriously.
"It's important that people keep checking in, washing their hands and maintain social distancing.
"It's also important that people don't put off their normal health concerns, because some are just staying at home."
The Port Macquarie CoVax clinic at Port Macquarie Base Hospital is currently offering appointments for the Pfizer vaccine to eligible recipients but demand for bookings is high.
Local GPs are also offering appointments for both Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs.
The Pfizer rollout to GP practices started from July 7 with 18 clinics across the Healthy North Coast footprint participating.
More practices will come on board in coming weeks.
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