Free rapid antigen tests are now being handed out at all Wollongong libraries, as the city takes part in a NSW Health initiative to make sure people have access to COVID testing as winter illnesses pick up.
Last week, NSW Health reported that there were 762 new cases of COVID across the Illawarra, with Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant saying the actual number was much higher.
"COVID spread remains high in the community," she said.
"We know that those notifications are really an underestimate of activity, so there's many more people infected than then reflected in that notification data."
Wollongong council requested RATs from NSW Health on May 10 as part of an initiative to get more tests into the community, which was put in place after the state stopped offering free PCR tests without a doctor's referral.
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the RATs would be available at all seven libraries across the city and were being handed out using "an honour system".
"We're working with NSW Health to distribute the free Rapid Antigen Tests to those in our community who need them," he said.
"We know that not everyone can afford to purchase a RAT test, so this is an opportunity for all residents to access tests for free.
"We have been provided with a limited supply of free tests from NSW Health so we're going to use an honour system.
That means residents don't need to bring proof of residence, simply show up to your local library and ask for a test kit."
He said people should pick them up while well, not sick with any COVID symptoms.
"We are asking people to plan ahead and make sure you've a RAT test at home ready to be used, as opposed to waiting until you're unwell to pick one up," he said.
"If you're feeling sick, it's best to stay home and limit your contact with others. We know all too well how quickly COVID-19 and even the flu can spread.''
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