Call for increased COVID-19 testing

Tessa Randello

Member for Morwell Russell Northe has called on the state government to urgently enhance COVID-19 testing in the Latrobe Valley.

Mr Northe said he had received multiple calls each day from local residents experiencing difficulties booking tests and delays in receiving results.

“There has been a number of experiences conveyed to me that leave me very concerned, including complications to even book a test, then days of delays to get tested and further delays in getting results, and this is completely unacceptable if we are fair dinkum in getting on top of this virus,” Mr Northe told The Express.

Mr Northe also said that many residents are trying to heed the Premier’s advice to get tested as soon as possible if they are unwell or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive to the virus, but are unable to due to strict guidelines at some testing facilities and long waiting times for appointments and results.

“In the current environment people are very anxious … their health and mental health is being challenged,” he said.

“Delays to testing not only potentially puts more local people at risk of contracting this virus, it is impacting employers, employees, individuals, families and people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Previously we had drive-through facilities open to community members and I think they should be reinstated in the Latrobe Valley.”

Mr Northe claimed increasing case numbers in the region warranted increased access to testing.

“(Drive through tests) are still available in other regional areas and they need to be urgently brought back to the Valley,” he said.

“It makes sense to offer that service to areas where COVID-19 cases are increasing and that includes the Latrobe Valley.

“The fact is that we are seeing increasing cases in the Valley and testing capacity is important to help stop the spread.

“I have made regular contact with the Minister for Health (Jenny Mikakos) over the last couple of weeks, raising examples with her calling for extra testing facilities.”

Mr Northe said his discussions with Ms Mikakos were ongoing.