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GV Health tests hundreds of teachers for COVID-19 ahead of school return

By Madi Chwasta

Goulburn Valley Health has tested more than 250 school staff for COVID-19 ahead of classroom learning resuming next week.

It is part of a statewide initiative to screen Victorian school staff before some year levels return to on-site learning on Tuesday.

GV Health chief executive Matt Sharp said as of noon yesterday, 254 primary and secondary school staff had been tested at GV Health ICS Unit, which has been open since Tuesday last week.

The voluntary testing, which does not include students, will be available for all school staff today and early next week at the ICS Unit, which can be accessed through the Graham St main entrance.

“All asymptomatic staff that work in primary or secondary schools are able to be tested here at GV Health in our ICS Unit today (Friday) from 4 pm to 7 pm and next week on Monday and Tuesday from 4 pm to 7 pm,” Mr Sharp said.

“Testing for school staff will not take place over the weekend.”

Testing for people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 has been open at the McIntosh Centre at the Shepparton Showgrounds daily from 10 am to 2 pm, and will be available until May 31.

There have been 713 symptomatic people tested from May 11 to May 20 at this site and GV Health's screening station.

Mr Sharp said testing for people with symptoms of COVID-19 would continue at Graham St in the coming months.

“The reason for the testing is so the Victorian Government can determine how prevalent COVID-19 may be out in the community,” he said.

“This information also assists the Victorian Government to make a decision about the current restrictions in place.”

Mr Sharp said children under the age of 16 should not present at the McIntosh Centre for testing.

“According to the Chief Health Officer (Brett Sutton) and other medical experts, children under the age of 16 years are not likely to be carriers of COVID-19, so the chance of children having COVID-19 is quite low,” he said.

“If children do have symptoms of COVID-19 they should visit their GP or the Screening Station at GV Health’s Graham St campus.”

A total of 3960 people were tested for COVID-19 by GV Health as part of the two-week blitz prior to the Victorian Government relaxing restrictions.

“This was an average of 360 people tested per day during this period compared to an average of 32 people each day in the seven days prior to the testing blitz commencing,” Mr Sharp said.

“In addition, GV Health has also provided pathology services at Echuca Regional Health and Nathalia, Cobram and Numurkah Health and processed 1224 COVID-19 pathology tests during the testing blitz.

“This was an average of 111 pathology tests each day.”

Mr Sharp said results were taking three to five days to return.