Increased testing needed

More needed: Latrobe City Councillor Kellie O'Callaghan has called for an increase in COVID testing throughout the municipality. file photograph


LATROBE City Council is calling on the state government to roll out seven-day a-week COVID testing within the municipality and expand testing capacity in Moe.

Latrobe City councillors supported the motion raised by Cr Kellie O’Callaghan at council’s September meeting on Monday night.

Cr O’Callaghan said she was concerned there were limited options to get COVID tested on weekends in the Valley.

“We know every day that the community is being encouraged through (the Premier’s) daily media conferences, if you have any symptoms to get tested,” Cr O’Callaghan said.

“Waiting to be tested can be really stressful if you can’t find a way through, and we don’t want to add emotional burdens to the community and we want this to be as easy for them as we can.”

COVID testing is unavailable in Latrobe City on Saturday afternoons or Sundays.

Walk-in testing was recently made available at the Moe Senior Citizens Centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 11am.

Cr O’Callaghan said the Moe service should be expanded for those couldn’t access it in these hours, and would be forced to wait days to get tested if they couldn’t get to another testing facility.

Cr Darren Howe pointed to a recent positive case in Traralgon, which sparked the community to turn out in droves to get tested.

“With this new Delta strain, the government is struggling to contain it. We’ve been in lockdown for three or four weeks and we are still getting 200-plus cases a day,” Cr Howe said.

“If it does rear its head in Latrobe City, we need to be on the front foot. We need adequate testing facilities in our three major towns.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he had been taking the issue up with Health Minister Martin Foley, after being contacted by constituents who couldn’t get tested on weekends.

Mr Northe said he had also asked Mr Foley’s office to ensure testing information on the state government’s coronavirus website was regularly and accurately updated.

“Testing is a crucial part of the response to the COVID situation. It’s imperative there is testing available each day of the week and after-hours if need be,” Mr Northe said.

“I have gone to the Health Minister’s office on multiple occasions stating that our community is calling for additional testing options.”

The Express contacted the Minister’s office for a response.