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Testing rates drop as restrictions ease for small venues

Canberrans are once again being urged to get tested for coronavirus as daily COVID-19 testing rates start to decline, concerning the ACT Chief Health Officer and health authorities.

Dr Kerryn Coleman said today numbers have started to fall in the last week to around 400 tests each day. She said health authorities would like to see testing numbers back up to around 600-800 tests per day.

“The reason testing rates falling is a concern for me … is it’s one of the central pillars for us to continue to move forward,” she said.

Dr Coleman said there could be potential confusion around COVID-19 symptoms and hay fever symptoms, as well as a “degree of fatigue and potential complacency”. 

“We have to have confidence that we will be able to identify a case of COVID, if it appears, very quickly and very early. So, we need to be ensuring that everybody who has any symptoms whatsoever is being tested.”

Dr Coleman said people should present for testing if they are experiencing any symptoms, or if they have been anywhere with a risk of exposure.

“If there is NSW Health recommending to be tested, then get tested if you’ve been to those locations.”

Despite the decline in COVID-19 testing rates, the ACT will move ahead with a slight easing of restrictions for small venues, announced last week.

Small venues in the ACT will be able to have 25 people in their venue, excluding staff, from 9am tomorrow (Friday 18 September). Dr Coleman said collecting customer details remains critical to ensure “quick and accurate” contact tracing can be conducted if required.  

“Larger venues will be concerned that these changes will have no impact or benefit for them … the reason we have taken this cautious step is because we need to assess the cumulative public health risk, the impact at each decision point,” she said.

“The easing of restrictions is being introduced for smaller venues … where the cumulative risk for public health is lower and can be offset, more than if we were to allow larger gatherings for all venues.”

Dr Coleman said she would continue to review the ACT’s situation, including when restrictions may be able to be eased further.

The ACT has no active cases of the virus – the last new case was recorded 10 weeks ago – and over 88,000 negative test results have been recorded to date.

For more information, visit the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

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