On-the-spot COVID-19 testing to help protect our mobs

On-the-spot testing starts at Mildura

On-the-spot COVID-19 testing is starting this week at the Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) medical clinic in Mildura.
This new point-of-care testing is understood to be the first of its kind in Mildura and makes a positive or negative result available within 45 minutes, rather than waiting up to four days for a result to come from pathology tests.
“The on-the-spot testing is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families, and it means we can effectively deal with a potential case of COVID-19 much more quickly,” explained MDAS Clinical Coordinator Jack McSwain.
“It will ensure the person has the care they need, and we can slow the spread of the virus by notifying the people they have been in close contact with sooner,” he said.
“The machine gives a positive or a negative result, so if someone does test positive to COVID-19 additional pathology tests would need to be done, but it means we can start caring for them sooner.”
For more information about getting tested in other areas of the Mallee, please contact your local health team.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50-years or those that have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19.
The introduction of on-the-spot testing comes as Victoria battles to contain COVID-19 outbreaks around metropolitan Melbourne. While COVID-19 cases have not recently been confirmed in regional areas such as Mildura, people are being urged not to become complacent about the highly contagious virus.
“Now is not the time to let our guard down, our fight against this virus is far from over,” Mr McSwain said.
“It’s really important people in our community continue to put their health first and get tested if they have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, even if the symptoms are mild.”
Symptoms include fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste.
The on-the-spot COVID-19 testing machine has been made available to MDAS by The Kirby Institute, a global research institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
The machine will continue to be useful long after COVID-19 eases, as it will be used to test for sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Results will be known within 45 minutes.
“The STI testing can be done as part of a health appointment, so we are hoping that not having to make an appointment specifically for an STI test will help remove some of the stigma around that,” Mr McSwain said.
“And because the result is known in 45 minutes, we can start to initiate treatment straight away.”
While the machine has the added functionality of testing for STIs, Mr McSwain said the focus will remain on COVID-19 testing for some time.
“We want people to understand that it is so important to put your health first, especially at the moment with COVID-19,” Mr McSwain said.
“Our medical clinics are a safe place to be and we have all the COVID-19 safety measures in place, so don’t hesitate when it comes to making an appointment.”
To make an appointment to be tested for COVID-19, contact the MDAS medical clinic on (03) 5018 4100

Pictured are: (front to back) Rebecca Wilson – Aboriginal Health Practitioner (holding the testing swab); Alex McWilliam – RN, Practice Nurse; and Celia Fox – RN, Practice Nurse.

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: "Self-determined, healthy, robust and culturally strong Aboriginal communities across the Mallee region."

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