Covid-19: Australians to plan for holiday ‘restrictions’ on testing

A likely spike in Covid cases due to Christmas gatherings means people need to be ready with a plan if they test positive for the virus while on holiday, authorities say.

NSW Health Director Kerry Chant said reduced availability of PCR tests and GP opening hours over the festive season needed to be taken into account to ensure vulnerable people could maintain be safe from covid

While the data confirmed the state had passed the peak of the current wave, the rate of decline in infections would slow significantly as families and friends gather for Christmas, Dr Chant told 2GB Radio.

We’re seeing some indicators that we’re starting to see a decline, but the pace of decline is really uncertain,” he said.

We know that this time of year is also a time when we see a lot of mingling and socializing, so that could slow down that rate of decline as well.

“I urge everyone to do these little things to minimize their chances of contracting Covid and also especially to take care of those who are vulnerable and elderly.”

Wearing masks was still an “effective measure” to prevent the spread of the virus, Dr Chant said, and while she did not advise people to wear masks at Christmas gatherings, she said they remained crucial in the ‘hospital and care centers for the elderly.

“You can do these little things that reduce the chance or the frequency of getting Covid infections,” he said.

Dr Chant stressed the importance of people vulnerable to the virus and eligible for antivirals having a plan for how they would access the drugs if needed.

He said people needed to organize themselves in case they became infected, as GPs would be operating on limited hours and not all PCR testing sites would be open over Christmas and the New Year.

“Know if you’re eligible for antivirals and have a testing plan and an antiviral plan as well.” she said

“Rapid antigen tests are useful; However, if you have symptoms and have a negative rapid antigen test, you should not rely on this, especially if you are eligible for antivirals, you should have a PCR test.

“If you have symptoms and you have a positive RAT, you can rely on that and be linked to care.”

NSW residents can view open Covid testing facilities on the state government website, while Covid patients can contact the 24-hour Healthdirect phone service on 1800 022 222 to be linked to GPs and available pharmacies.

Originally published as Australians warned to be mindful of testing ‘limitations’ over the festive period

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