Coronavirus testing dropped by 16 per cent across New South Wales last week, with testing in the 5-17 years age group declining the most.
Thursday’s weekly surveillance report from NSW Health shows while testing rates have remained high, there has been a steady decline in the number of people being tested since August 22. Testing rates are now the lowest they have been since mid-July.
“The largest decrease in testing rates this week was evident in school-aged children,” the report says.
The decline comes despite four cases last week being linked to a cluster at St Paul’s Catholic College in Greystanes. Earlier this month an entire year group went into self-isolation and the school was forced to close for a few days.
The outbreak was also linked to two cases at Girraween Public School, which was evacuated and closed for cleaning.
A public health investigation has still not been able to identify the source of the cluster.
This week Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued a plea to NSW residents to boost testing rates – especially as school holidays approach.
“We are concerned about testing numbers. We really need the community to stay vigilant and not be complacent,” she said.
“We are doing well in relation to COVID but we need to do extremely well for us to keep numbers low during the (upcoming) vital school holiday period when we know families will be moving all across the state.”
Regional areas of NSW, which have mostly avoided the major clusters in metropolitan Sydney, are of particular concern during the two-week break.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro has urged people to call ahead, pack plenty of gloves and masks, and display patience as they flood into small towns across the state.
“As we settle into the new normal, mid-pandemic, we need to keep in mind a holiday to the regions does not mean a break from behaving responsibly,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Our regional and rural communities have been through a lot, but they have done a great job managing COVID-19, and we need Sydneysiders and other visitors to understand all the same guidelines and recommendations apply, whether you’re in Bondi, Byron or Bega.”
The weekly surveillance report shows women are more likely to be tested than men, as has been the case since recording began, and those aged 70-79 have the lowest rates of testing.