New virus hot spots named as COVID-19 testing urged
Five new areas in NSW have been added to the state's growing list of COVID-19 hot spots, with residents undergoing any symptoms of the virus urged to come forward and be tested.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant told media that authorities will now provide a weekly update on any new hot spots, with Lithgow, the Blue Mountains, Hornsby, Lane Cove and the Northern Beaches announced this morning.
This is in addition to the ten existing hot spots: Blacktown, Canada Bay, Cumberland, Goulburn, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta, Ryde, Randwick and Waverley.
"We have identified a number of hot spots for testing," Dr Chant said.
"Whilst anyone across the state is urged to come forward with respiratory symptoms, we will also be naming those hot spots on a weekly basis where we want to have particularly enhanced testing."
While most of NSW's COVID-19 cases have come from overseas or a particular cluster or event, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the source of the virus remains unknown for "several hundred cases".
"That's the concern. That's why when you increase testing, that gives us better data as to where the virus is spreading."
Dr Chant said cases that come from "unknown community acquisition" are how NSW Health discovers virus hot spots.
"What we do is we look at those areas, and where we find those cases we look at the movements of those people and what they reflect is that they moved about in their local community, hence we identify those as hot spots," she explained, adding it is a "multi-layered approach".
She thanks communities that have been identified as hot spots for their response - which included residents more strictly adhering to social distancing measures and minimising movement around their area.
In the last 24 hours, just two new cases were recorded in the state, bringing the total number of infections to 3004.
Ms Berejiklian commended the state for getting tested in higher rates.
"In the last 24 hour batch of testing, we had 4400 people come forward and get tested. That's excellent, given for the same period last week, it was only 1300."
But, Ms Berejiklian said, in order for the State Government to consider easing restrictions coming into May and June, testing would be heavily relied upon.
"We need to stress the more people that get tested, the more people that come forward, means we can control what the virus is doing in New South Wales. We can identify the contacts of the people who might have the virus and make sure everybody stays safe," the Premier told reporters.
Ms Berejiklian urged NSW residents to make use of the Federal Government's COVIDSafe app, which was launched last night, and will be used to assist in contact-tracing of the virus.