As Regional Victoria is about to enter Stage 3 Coronavirus restrictions, Member for Morwell Russell Northe is calling upon the State Government to urgently enhance testing capacities in the Latrobe Valley.
“I have been contacted by so many people who are experiencing significant delays or indeed an inability to receive a vital Coronavirus test in a reasonable timeframe” Mr Northe began.
“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 said.
Mr Northe said, “People are concerned and people are anxious about this situation and even more so as the number of active cases increase in our community, it is reasonable to expect that an escalation in testing demand occurs”.
“The strong message from the Premier is that members of the community who are unwell or have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are directed to get tested, go home immediately and wait for their results and whilst people are generally trying to heed that advice – you must have prompt access to be tested and that is not currently occurring in our community” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe confirmed today that his Electorate Office is receiving multiple calls per day where community members seek advice on the unavailability of appointments to receive a test, or to report that their results are taking exceptionally long time to be returned. As confirmed active cases in the community increase, these calls are becoming more frequent and more concerning as the days go by.
“I have been raising these same concerns regularly to the Government and the Minister for Health for a number of weeks now and whilst there was a suggestion that the Latrobe Valley would have its testing regime increased this simply has not happened which is disappointing” Mr Northe 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 well-being. I appreciate that resourcing is difficult at the moment but the reality is more has to be done in a quicker timeframe and to provide testing for people who need to be tested as the Premier continually states” Mr Northe said.
“Drive through testing units have been deployed across the State and in other regional areas, so it makes sense to offer that service to areas where COVID-19 cases are increasing and that includes the Latrobe Valley. At one point drive through testing was available in our community but that has now been withdrawn and frankly testing opportunities are limited which is extremely problematic” Mr Northe said.