A question from Carrie Bickmore of The Project led a health expert to make a brutal prediction as NSW battles a growing Covid outbreak.
ABC commentator Norman Swan tells The Project’s Carrie Bickmore that testing may need to change before the state can overcome its lockdown.
ABC commentator Norman Swan tells The Project’s Carrie Bickmore that testing may need to change before the state can overcome the lockdown.
A health expert has told The Project’s Carrie Bickmore that New South Wales « may not get out of the current lockdown » as the state struggles to contain the latest outbreak.
The brutal assessment was made by ABC coronavirus expert Dr. Norman Swan after Bickmore asked him about test rates.
He added that the virus was not just in southwestern Sydney, but « everywhere ».
NSW registered 110 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, a sharp increase from Tuesday’s 79.
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian had said the 79 cases from the day before were the « green shoots » that the lockdown was working.
But again, those green shoots were trampled as case numbers shot into the low hundreds on Wednesday. Worryingly, about 70 of those who tested positive while contagious were.
In addition to the outbreak’s epicenter in Fairfield, NSW Health has said multiple cases are now emerging in the neighboring community area of Canterbury-Bankstown and to the south and west of Sydney.
The Prime Minister has appealed to Sydneysiders to restrict their movements, but noted that the impact of the heightened restrictions, introduced just days ago, may not be visible for several more days.
In addition to Greater Sydney, the NSW region around Orange, Victoria and South Australia is also in delta lockdowns.
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Testing is too slow
The project host Bickmore noted the huge queues to be tested in Adelaide but said cases still emerged with 12 infections registered in the state in the past 24 hours.
‘What do you think is happening there? Are you concerned?” she asked Dr. Swan.
The former doctor replied that the response from South Australians had been « fantastic » to come forward for testing.
« They did the right thing by locking in ».
However, he said there was a « problem » in the Australian testing process.
That was, all test samples had to go through the time-consuming process of being sent to pathology labs.
There have been complaints in NSW that the results take days to come back.
dr. Swan said faster so-called antigen testing should become available.
« It’s pretty common in other parts of the world and you could really overload a lot of the tests into rapid antigen tests, where you get the result in 15 or 30 minutes and it costs $5 or $10, not $100. »
« There are rivers of gold flowing into pathology departments that oppose antigen testing. »
‘Maybe we won’t get over this in NSW’
dr. Swan suggested that NSW’s prospects of getting to zero or controlling the virus would be more likely if it could find cases more quickly.
“Quick testing might be the best way to offload the regular testing so you can let things unfold.
« It’s not a replacement for the nasal swab, but it could be a way to test people to make sure they’re not contagious before going to the workplace, » he said.
“We need to figure out how to step it up because we may not get over this in NSW.
« How will we live with this until we vaccinate 80 percent of people? »
dr. Swan was also asked why NSW seemingly struggled to consistently get its cases below 100.
He essentially had a six-word answer.
« Because they lost control of it. »
He explained that the contact tracers tried their best, but they were « overwhelmed. »
“You don’t need too many things for that.
“Each case is maybe 100 contacts. In the community, and every day you add 20, 30, 35 cases, in this case 40 cases today that need to be tracked.
« It’s a huge workload and it’s overwhelmed, and so there are people in the community circulating with the virus. »
And he had a grim view of the current outbreak in Sydney.
“It’s all over Sydney.
« We’re targeting the southwestern suburbs when the virus is everywhere. »
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