‘I don’t know if it’s a problem’: Commuter to get targeted testing
A popup test site will be set up to detect community transmission north of Canberra.
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ACT Health will set up a pop-up COVID testing center in Watson on Saturday to prevent a widespread outbreak in the suburb.
ACT chief medical officer Kerryn Coleman announced targeted testing plans Friday and invited all Watson and nearby suburban residents to test to help her team detect any transmissions.
Watson has had 30 cases since the start of Canberra’s COVID outbreak last month. More than half of these have happened in the last two weeks.
Despite being one of the suburbs closest to the ACT’s largest testing centres, the decision to move to Watson was made after lessons learned from the NSW and Victorian COVID responses.
“You can see some pop-up tests in the Watson area over the weekend,” said Dr Coleman.
“As part of the ongoing management of the outbreak, we have mentioned earlier how we are constantly monitoring the links to report where cases are, their location, and our response.
“We look at genomics, epidemiology around links between people, but we also look at geographic or location-related links to see if we see any geographic clustering.
“What we’ve noticed in the last day or two is that we had 30 cases during the outbreak in the Watson area, with almost half of them reported in the last two weeks.
“Moreover, for some of these cases we are unable to verify the source transfer, and as you know, unconfirmed transfer chains are our biggest concern.”
Dr Coleman said there was no common link between cases at Watson and encouraged health officials to focus on the suburbs.
“To be frank, I don’t know there is a problem,” said Dr Coleman.
“We don’t know if there is a relevant level of transmission from these cases in the community, but what we do know from NSW and Victoria is that we need to act very quickly to give people the opportunity to get tested so we can figure it out and determine if there is something we need to do something about.
“We have no public transmission sites, the spread of cases is definitely at Watson and also comes from a number of different backgrounds, including key workers and other community members.
“When we do this from a geographic perspective, saying that we can’t understand what’s going on from all the other information we have is the next step in our research.
“Let’s try that and see if we can get to the bottom of it and cut any transmissions that occur.”
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