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Demand soars for COVID-19 tests as restrictions change in Victoria

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AS the State Government today announced tighter restrictions due a spike in COVID-19 cases, Kilmore District Health has reminded the Mitchell Shire community of its testing practices.

The reminder comes after some people attended Kilmore District Health’s outpatients’ building to access vaccination services without an appointment and requesting onsite testing.

People across Australia are being forced to queue hours at polymerase chain reaction, PCR, testing sites, as rapid antigen tests, RATs, are in short supply.

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Some testing sites, including Kilmore District Health’s JJ Clancy Reserve drive-through site, have been forced to close at times due to a huge spike in demand this week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday that people no longer had to get PCR tests and that RATs were sufficient to confirm people had COVID-19.

A Kilmore District Health spokesperson said its only COVID-19 testing site was at JJ Clancy Reserve, Kilmore, and no COVID-19 tests were conducted onsite at the hospital.

“If you are a COVID-19 close contact and showing symptoms, you can access a COVID-19 PCR test at JJ Clancy Reserve drive through testing clinic,” she said.

“The clinic administers PCR tests only, the community will be advised when rapid antigen tests become available.”

The JJ Clancy Reserve clinic is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Sunday, and 9am to 3pm on Fridays. Clinic hours may change depending on weather and demand.

Access to Kilmore District Health’s vaccination clinic onsite at the health service’s outpatients building is via appointment only.

People can book an appointment via the COVID Hotline on 1800 675 398 or via the government online booking system

“The staff at KDH are doing their very best to support the community as best they can, please be respectful when accessing these services,” the spokesperson said.

Under new pandemic orders that come into effect at 11.59pm tonight, people who test positive on a RAT test will be considered probable cases and be subject to the same requirements as confirmed cases from a PCR test – they must immediately isolate for seven days and notify their contacts.

It will be mandatory to report the result of a positive RAT to the Department of Health through an online form or by phone. Probable cases will be reported alongside confirmed cases in Victoria’s daily numbers.

Until RATs are in increased supply, Victorians who have symptoms, or asymptomatic household contacts required to use RATs, can still get a PCR test if they can’t access any RATs.

Moving forward, the change means PCR testing can increasingly be reserved for confirmation of clinical diagnoses in vulnerable settings and critical workforce testing.

A PCR test continues to be recommended for people who test positive on a RAT but don’t have symptoms and who aren’t contacts.

Due to the increased accuracy of RATs in higher-risk groups, PCR tests will be discouraged for contacts or people with symptoms.

Hospitality density changes

The new pandemic orders also require a density quotient of one person per two square metres be introduced indoors at hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafés, pubs and nightclubs along with along with entertainment venues including arcades and amusement parks, casinos and gaming venues across Victoria.

The change is similar to the measures already in place in New South Wales and aims to reduce the risk of superspreader events in hospitality settings.

It is also recommended that entertainment and hospitality venues and their patrons opt for seated service only and avoid indoor dancefloors.

It is strongly recommended that if possible people undertake a RAT prior to visiting aged care facilities or hospitals.

The government have also strongly recommended to work from home and study from home for adult education if possible. This will remain in place until Australia Day, when it will continue to be assessed.

Non-urgent elective surgery will also be temporarily be reduced for public and private hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne and Victoria’s major regional cities, helping hospitals respond to the increasing number of patients with coronavirus. All emergency surgery and urgent elective surgery will continue.

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