Illawarra residents with coronavirus symptoms can be tested and treated faster with the establishment of the region's first dedicated COVID-19 Assessment Clinic at Wollongong Hospital.
The district's public health director Curtis Gregory said the clinics will enable many people to be assessed without having to present to an emergency department.
"The clinic has been set up to help us respond to COVID-19, and channel patients away from the ED and other parts of the hospital," he said.
"We are now in the targeted action phase (of our pandemic plan) and it's focused on how we handle people coming into the system in the most efficient way so they can be tested and treated as quickly as possible."
Mr Gregory said people did not require a GP referral to undergo testing at the clinic, but advised them to call ahead to minimise wait times.
People who had returned from overseas in the last 14 days, and most importantly, were showing fever and/or respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath or sore throat were encouraged to attend the clinic.
"Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are also within the criteria for such testing," he said.
The clinic is located at the back of Lawson House on the Wollongong Hospital campus. Entry to the clinic is via the dedicated parking and drop-off zone off Loftus Street, which is clearly sign posted.
The clinics will be staffed by specialist nursing and infection control staff and will operate from 8.30am to 5pm, 7 days a week. To book a time, phone 4222 5078.
The Wollongong COVID-19 Assessment Clinic started operating on Monday morning, with similar clinics to be established at Shellharbour and Shoalhaven Hospitals as required.
While the clinics are in operation, Wollongong's Heart Health Centre will be temporarily relocated to Level 1 of Lawson House.
As part of its plan to deal with the threat of COVID-19, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District has also increased staffing district wide.
"We're trying to flatten the curve - there's a peak and we're trying to reduce that peak, to reduce the effect on the health system," Mr Gregory said.
He urged the public to remain alert to COVID-19 symptoms. The most up-to-date facts and advice on COVID-19 was available on the NSW Health website.
Criteria for COVID-19 Testing Clinics
- Returned from overseas in the last 14 days AND showing acute respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) and/or fever
- Close contact of a person with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
The best way to protect against COVID-19 is the same as any respiratory infection such as the flu:
- Always practise good hygiene
- Wash your hands often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick
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