Western NSW Local Health District Chief Executive Scott McLachlan says low testing rates over the weekend in Blayney, Cabonne and Orange are of a "real concern" and may impact the region's ability to emerge from a seven-day lockdown on time.
He also addressed unconfirmed reports around 100 people from Orange attended the weekend's anti-lockdown protests in Sydney, urging anyone who may have been at that march to get tested.
"Numbers need to remain high to have some confidence that if COVID is in the region we can get in front of it," Mr McLachlan said.
More than 900 tests were conducted in Parkes, Bathurst, Orange, Blayney and Molong on Sunday, a figure Mr McLachlan stressed was a "significant decrease" on where testing rates needed to be as health officials and the NSW Government meet to determine whether or not a seven-day lockdown will end as scheduled on Tuesday night.
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Importantly, no new cases were recorded throughout the entire Western LHD in the 24 hours leading up to 8am on Monday. There was 145 cases recorded in NSW over the same time period.
There's still just the one active case of COVID-19 in our LHD, and that's being managed in home isolation in the Cabonne Local Government Area.
The LGAs of Orange, Cabonne and Blayney have been in lockdown since midnight, July 21 and in that time there's been over 10,600 tests conducted, a figure that represents 17 per cent of the population. There's been over 37,000 tests recorded in the last month right across the Western NSW LHD.
However, Sunday's total of 900 tests is well below the 4000 daily the LHD is aiming for.
Mr McLachlan said it was imperative anyone with symptoms, or those previously considered close contacts, continued to get tested in a bid to stay ahead of the COVID threat.
He said those officials looking to end the lockdown in Orange would look at testing rates across the three LGAs in question when making a decision.
"We have to see this through to the finish line," he said as Orange, Blayney and Cabonne round day six of the seven-day lockdown.
"This is a crucial time for us, the next 24 hours. There's still test results still coming in.
"Testing rates will be serious consideration. If they're low then we won't know for sure if COVID is circulating.
"There's meetings (on Monday) afternoon to look at that and the experts will weigh in on our numbers.
"I must say though, I've been incredibly impressed with the community. People have genuinely stayed at home. It's been a typical country pragmatic approach. The risk is being taken seriously. Thank you to the community."
Testing locations: Tuesday
- Molong - Old Railway Station - 10am until 2pm
- Blayney - Showground - 10am until 2pm
- Parkes - Showground - 10am until 2pm
- Bathurst - Mount Panorama - 8am until 4pm
- Orange - Showground - 8am until 4pm
- Orange - Wade Park - 8am until 4pm