Tamworth Regional Council among the first to test pilot COVID-19 rapid testing program for water workers | The head of the daily newspaper in the North


Tamworth Regional Council is one of the first in the state to pilot rapid COVID-19 tests that take just 15 minutes. The testing program will help keep essential workers safe and operational services, said United Services Union organizer Mark Hughes. “They are essential service workers and a lot of people don’t realize some of the essential workers we have with boards, such as those in charge of water and sewage,” he said. “People who can’t work from home but beyond that they are absolutely essential. Imagine not being able to turn on your faucet and have a glass of water or flush the toilet.” FIND OUT MORE: The pilot program will be carried out with employees of the water department. Testing will only be performed on workers who are not showing symptoms. Those with flu-like symptoms will get a full COVID-19 PCR test at an authorized testing center and be isolated until they test negative. The council’s director of human resources, Marie Resch, said the program would help screen employees and “quickly identify and isolate those who have COVID-19.” “By screening employees, we can quickly identify and isolate those who have COVID-19 and, therefore, minimize any disruption in service delivery and potential transmission into the community,” she said. Mr Hughes said the intention was for council contractors traveling to Tamworth from outside the region to be tested as well. He said the program would help reduce the number of people forced into days of isolation while awaiting the result of a coronavirus test. “It’s to limit downtime, to limit disruption to essential services,” he said. “In some ways, yes, it does come down to a certain sense of normalcy. Rapid antigenic tests for COVID-19, which can be done at home but are generally less accurate than pathology tests, are an important part of the response to the pandemic in Europe and Asia, but have yet to be widely used in Australia. Tamworth Council hired a local specialist supplier to perform the tests using kits approved by the Therapeutic Drug Administration. The Council plans to expand the program to other areas of essential service delivery in the coming weeks and months. Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


Elna M. Lemons