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31 March, 2021

COVID testing demand doubles

THE Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Service (CHHHS) is ramping up its COVID-19 testing capacity this week after a huge spike in demand.

COVID testing at the Cairns Hospital Fever Clinic

In the 24-hour period between 9am Monday and Tuesday, 330 people were tested for COVID-19 by the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS), compared to 116 in the same period last week.

This included 234 tests at the Cairns Hospital and 96 tests at the Portsmith testing site.

It doesn’t include other private testing facilities in the region.

The spike in testing came as evidence emerged of a community transmission of the UK strain of COVID-19 in Brisbane, which led to a Brisbane lockdown and restrictions being tightened across the state on Monday.

To service demand in the lead-up to the Easter long weekend, CHHHS have opened up an extra testing lane to double their capacity at our drive-through Portsmith clinic, and are planning for additional fever clinic capacity for over the Easter weekend.

The CHHHS we will also be sending their mobile testing unit to Port Douglas today, Wednesday March 31, from 8.30am-12.30pm at the Port Douglas Community Hall, on the corner of Mowbray and Mudlow streets.

Due to the increased demand, locals requiring testing are asked to book using the online booking tool at the Queensland Health website.


How you can help ease strain on health services

Far North Queenslanders are being urged to turn to local GPs for non-urgent medical treatment, to help ease the strain on Cairns Hospital as it continues to experience peak activity.

The Cairns Hospital Emergency Department experienced its busiest day in history on February 16, and declared a Code Yellow in early March, a strategy which is implemented to meet increased demand when hospital infrastructure and resources are under extreme pressure.

“The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has been experiencing peak activity in its emergency departments for several months, and we are expecting this will continue this Easter long weekend,” said CHHHS Executive Director Cairns Services Marie Kelly.

“[Code Yellow] actions include activating an Incident Management Team, increasing staffing, opening additional beds, and escalating clinical care to senior decision makers to help improve the flow of patients through the hospital.

“Cairns Hospital has performed exceptionally well, despite the challenges associated with unprecedented increased emergency department presentations on our services.

“To plan for future growth, we have immediate and medium-term solutions rolling out over the next year or so – including a $26.4 million expansion of the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department. The project is currently in the planning phase.

“We are balancing our COVID-19 pandemic response with the continued delivery of essential health services.

“But we are asking Far North Queenslanders to please keep our EDs for emergencies only.

“We are still seeing far too many people presenting with non-urgent conditions such as needing surgical dressings and sutures.

“These are relatively simple procedures that can be performed by your local GP.”

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