Recorded COVID cases on the Central Coast over the Christmas-New Year break were in the vicinity of 8-9,000 but Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) CEO, Scott McLachlan, says in reality the numbers are probably around three times that.
“The holiday period was a really difficult time, with a lot of the private test providers shutting down to give their staff a much-needed break,” he said.
“Unfortunately it was a time when a lot of people needed to get tested which put added pressure on the public clinics.
“Our staff did an amazing job working up to 12 hours a day to get people tested.”
McLachlan acknowledged queues were constantly lengthy and results were taking five or six days on average to be delivered.
“A lot of people were testing positive so fewer tests could be grouped together which meant the results were taking a long time to get out,” he said.
McLachlan said the situation had improved slightly with the private providers back on deck, but there is still a wait of three-four days for results.
“The case numbers are really an under-representation because many people haven’t been able to get a PCR test and there has been a shortage of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) available,” he said.
“People have been out in the community, sometimes not knowing they are positive, and many may not be symptomatic.
“The virus is spreading through our community and it is likely most of us will get COVID in coming weeks.”
McLachlan said a huge supply of RATs expected in the region over the coming week and a reporting system now being finalised through Service NSW would allow for a more accurate count.
But the emphasis now needs to be not on the number of cases, but on the number of hospitalisations, he said.
As at January 11, there were 50 people in Gosford and Wyong Hospitals, six of them in intensive care.
“Very few people are getting really sick and that’s a positive,” he said.
“People getting their booster vaccination as they become eligible will be crucial.”