Virus testing too slow, too narrow | AMA (WA)


AMA (WA) | Dr Andrew Miller

Virus testing too slow, too narrow

Friday March 27, 2020

AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller says that COVID-19 testing in Western Australia needs to be broadened significantly and rolled out immediately to properly prepare hospitals for more widespread community transmission.

“Locking down the community, preparing properly and testing, testing and more testing is the only way that we can accurately get a handle on community transmission trends,” Dr Miller said.

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“We know that a good proportion of the cruise ship passengers that disembarked from the Ruby Princess in Sydney a week ago that tested positive, actually displayed no symptoms.

“COVID-19 is invisible, it’s ruthless and it spreads very quickly.

“Testing is the key to greater visibility and is the only way that our health staff can prepare properly for the reality of what they will face as this virus moves across the State.”

Dr Miller said that broadening the range of people who could be tested to include those more generally exhibiting key COVID-19 symptoms, would provide vital data.

“The more data we have on community transmission, the more that can be used in our modelling which is essential to help pinpoint hot-spots and timelines for peak hospital demand,” he said.

“There needs to be more visibility from the Health Department as to what they know and the modelling they are using.

Dr Miller said that Doctors were increasingly concerned about the narrowness of testing parameters and the lack of transparency on modelling which was the foundation underpinning advice on containment measures at a national level.

“Transparency on modelling, live data from widespread testing of the community is the only way to better arm our health workers and make the best decisions possible for everyone’s health,” he said.

“Doctors have called for a lockdown and preparing in the style of a cold, hard, military style operation is the only way you fight a battle and the best way we will be able to combat COVID-19.

Dr Miller said the health care sector was not yet set up to deal with lots of cases of COVID-19 and so ensuring there was no non-essential travel to the regions would also help to protect local health care workers, the indigenous communities and the wider community at large.

“We need to protect those vulnerable communities and Government needs to shut down the FIFO operations,” he said.

“It’s the Government’s decision to let FIFO workers travel into the regions.

“However, COVID-19 is not selective and it spreads quickly, and it will get into the regions.”

Dr Miller said the AMA (WA) could not overstate their message to lock down.

“No further delays. And test, test, test.”

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