THE number of people being tested for COVID-19 at the Wonthaggi Hospital has jumped almost three-fold in the last 48 hours.

That’s 65 people tested as opposed to the usual number of 25.

It’s similar story at Cowes, at the Phillip Island Health Hub, where 27 people have been tested over the same period, as opposed to an average of eight.

It follows Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement of a testing blitz to help inform the state government’s decisions about slowly lifting restrictions, ahead of the State of Emergency being reviewed on May 11. It is proposed up to 100,000 Victorians will be tested for COVID-19 before then.

Bass Coast Health (BCH) is urging anyone in the community with even the mildest of symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested.

The health service has been running the Cowes assessment clinic since March 14 and another at the Wonthaggi Hospital since March 15.

Over 800 people have already been tested at these clinics, with eight positive test results from the BCH testing clinics – four Bass Coast Shire residents and four residents who live elsewhere.

The most common symptoms of COVID are: fever, breathing difficulties and breathlessness, runny nose, cough, sore throat and tiredness. Diarrhea is another possible symptom.

Following a recent announcement from the Victorian government, testing is now also available for the following groups of people, even if they do not have symptoms:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Aged care workers
  • Retail/supermarket workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Construction workers
  • People with chronic disease and
  • Agriculture workers.

BCH CEO Jan Child said more testing would help the health service and government to understanding community transmission rates locally.

“Please, have a very low threshold to get yourself or your family members or friends tested if they meet the current criteria. Any symptoms should prompt you to be tested, no matter how mild,” she said.

People can be tested at the Phillip Island Health Hub, 50-54 Church St, Cowes, which is open 24/7.

Tests can also be done at Wonthaggi Hospital. Any community members who are very unwell should call an ambulance or attend the emergency department. If they have respiratory issues, they will be swabbed.

The assessment clinic, which is in a separate area, runs from consulting rooms inside the hospital and is best for those patients that need a medical assessment.

In the past days, a separate portable building has been set up at the front of the hospital to allow people with very mild or no symptoms to have the swab by a nurse without entering the health service. This is a simple swabbing clinic and is available every day 10am – 6pm.

Bass Coast Health encourages as many people as possible to get the testing to help curb the spread of this very contagious virus which can spread from person to person through:

  • Close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they have symptoms)
  • Contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • Touching objects or surfaces (like door handles or tables) that have droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.

The best way to avoid the virus is through physical distancing, regular hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds, coughing into your elbow or sleeve and staying at home.

These are all positive prevention measures that combined with testing, will help curb the virus in our local community.