COVID-19: How Avalon outbreak has sent our tests soaring
A RECENT outbreak of coronavirus centre around Sydney's northern beaches has shattered the Christmas calm that many had been lulled into.
With the Queensland border bubble opening in the last few months, nowhere could this be more true than on the North Coast, with the last recorded case in the community not since late July.
However, the effect of the so-called "Avalon cluster" have reached right up the coast, with many residents heeding warnings from NSW Health and local health authorities to get tested.
The Daily Examiner has extracted the data from NSW Health's official figures of every test conducted in the state since January 1, and what it shows is testing mobilising across the region, in some cases to record levels.
Take a look at the breakdown of testing over the past two weeks in our exclusive graphs here:
As you can see, there was a massive increase in testing numbers as the Avalon cluster began to spread, and the Northern Beaches area was put into lockdown - especially over the Christmas period.
Numbers in the Coffs Harbour area jumped from an average of 30-40 per day, to two days of 120 people tested, an almost fourfold increase as the fear of people travelling from North Sydney hit the area.
At the area's other air arrival, in Ballina, the 2478 postcode also had a marked increase in testing, with a jump from approximately 20 tests a day in the 2478 postcode, to 123 on the Monday - a record for one day in the area.
In the Northern Rivers, Lismore almost had a day of nearly 100 tests last Monday, and areas across the region showed increased testing numbers.
The Clarence Valley also had a similar jump, with a fourfold increase in testing, resulting in a high of 57 a day in the 2460 postcode, still short of its record of 105 which was set in August.
There were even a few people who decided to get a COVID test on Christmas Day, with five in Coffs Harbour, six in the Grafton area, and small numbers throughout the Northern Rivers
CEO of Northern NSW Local Health District Wayne Jones said they had noticed the sharp rise in people coming forward over the past weeks.
"Almost 50 per cent of the people presenting for testing in recent days in our hospital clinics have been residents from the Northern Beaches in Sydney, with the majority of these coming through our Lismore and Byron Bay testing clinics," he said.
"Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 87,000 tests done across the District."
After a brief loosening of restrictions for the Northern Beaches area over Christmas, the area is still considered a hotspot and restrictions apply for residents from Greater Sydney and the Northern Beaches which can be found on the NSW Health website.
Checks have been established at both Coffs Harbour and Ballina/Byron airports, and many businesses are turning away people in line with the restriction of movement from those who have been in the hotspot areas in the past 14 days.
The Queensland hard border has also been re-established as a response to the ban, with many cars being turned away from entering the state.