Virus tests plummet during NSW heatwave

Health officials are urging more NSW residents to be swabbed for the coronavirus after testing numbers plummeted during the weekend’s heatwave.

NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday recorded zero new locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus, as well as nine cases in returned overseas travellers.

It marks the 23rd consecutive day of no new local COVID-19 cases in the state.

NSW Health said 6106 tests were conducted over the 24-hour period, which was a concern.

More than 10,000 people in NSW were tested on Saturday.

“With a drop in testing numbers over the weekend, NSW Health is again asking everyone to continue to come forward for testing if they have even the mildest symptoms that could signal COVID-19,” Dr Jeremy McAnulty said on Monday.

The benchmark for local elimination of COVID-19 is 28 consecutive days without a locally-acquired case, as has been reached in Victoria.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard says he’s optimistic NSW will reach that milestone on Saturday.

“Having said that, every day is fantastic when we see zero community transmission,” he told reporters on Monday.

Mr Hazzard also hinted restrictions in NSW would soon be eased further.

“Every week, the crisis cabinet meets and looks to see what we can further relax in terms of the restrictions,” he said.

“Hopefully there’ll be more restrictions being lifted but that depends on the (health) advice this week.”

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