NSW has recorded 25,000 cases today, up from the 20,000 it recorded the day before. However, this is a serious drop from the recent high of 45,000 the state recorded on Saturday.
Instead of being a cause of celebration, the discrepancy is thought to be explained by the drop in testing, down to 71,000 from Saturday’s 116,000. This is likely due to the widely reported chaos experienced at testing centres across the country over the holiday period, with reports of people waiting long hours in queues while tests have taken days to return results.
It’s also explained by the shift towards rapid antigen testing, with people preferring to test at home, if they can get their hands on any of the devices, which are rarer than rocking horse turds at this point.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, has advised that daily case numbers will be “conservative” until rapid antigen tests can be included in the figure, and that’s exactly what the NSW government is working on right now.
It was announced last week that RAT results would soon be able to be uploaded to the Service NSW app. Now, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the NSW government is looking at ways in which it can legally enforce the uploading of that information.
The decision to mandate the reporting is thought to have been made at the request of Chant, who is concerned that the state is not getting a clear picture of the outbreak and that some COVID-positive people could “fall through the cracks”. Both deaths and hospitalisations are on the rise, with the state recording its highest daily death toll of 11 people on Monday.
However, despite the government seeking legal advice from the Crown Solicitor’s Office on how the practice could be implemented, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has said that there likely won’t be fines in place for people who fail to report.
“There has been much discussion regarding the possibility of mandatory enforcement and the health lawyers are consulting with Crown Solicitors to look at what may be possible,” Hazzard told the SMH.
“It comes with the added benefit that it might also open the door to federal financial assistance if you’re off work for the week. The bottom line is it is a must-do, even if there is no fine. At the end of the day, it’s an obligation on all of us to make sure that we log in to the Service NSW app, particularly as it will give a clear picture of how the virus is moving through the community.”
Case numbers in NSW are likely to be far higher than what is currently being reported and the addition of the RAT results should give us a better indication of where the state is at in terms of transmission. When Victoria added RAT results to their tally over the weekend, their numbers jumped from around 25,000 to 52,000. However, those results included RATs taken during the previous three days, so they weren’t a direct reflection of the daily tally.
It’s unclear exactly when the new system will be implemented, however, it is expected to come into play this week. The Service NSW app, the same one used to check in to venues, will be the place where RAT results can be submitted.
On Monday, NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello shared a proposed design of what the new system will look like and said that “the team is working around the clock to get this live very soon.”
We’re currently working on a way to register your RAT results through Service NSW.
Here’s a proposed design of what the app looks like.
— Victor Dominello MP (@VictorDominello) January 10, 2022
Of course, a system like this would have been very useful had it been up and running a few weeks ago, but it’s not like the government had any warning of what the demand on services would be like, nor could they possibly have predicted such a need.