Coronavirus testing rates have plateaued around the country, with some states doing fewer tests last week than the week before.
Test numbers fell in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and slightly in the ACT, after a major push in April to increase testing around the country in preparation for opening the economy.
Victoria, which has been dealing with outbreaks at an abattoir and a McDonalds outlet, leads the testing, doing twice the number of tests per day, by population, as nationally.
Australia-wide, an average of 30,610 tests were done each day last week, compared with a daily average of 27,820 the week before. Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have cited an aim of 40,000 to 50,000 tests a day.
Last week's testing rate equates to 120 tests a day per 100,000 population. But the increase is due mainly to a surge in Victoria.
In the ACT, an average of 332 tests were done each day in the week ending Sunday, May 17, a slight reduction on the average of 334 tests a day the week before.
The rate per 100,000 population was 77 in Canberra. That puts Canberra about even with South Australia and ahead of testing rates in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, which tested at a rate of 51-54 tests per 100,000 population each day.
NSW did an average of 103 tests per 100,000 people last week, and Victoria led the pack, at 240.
The rate of positive tests around the country has slid further, from 1 per cent a fortnight ago, to 0.7 per cent.
Testing has been a difficult question for authorities, with shortages of equipment in the early weeks of the pandemic resulting in tests only for people who had returned from countries with virus outbreaks or been in direct contact with cases.
Now, anyone can get tested if they have specific symptoms, and authorities are working up plans to test groups of people without symptoms in some arenas - including electric surgery patients, aged care workers and medical workers.
New outbreaks are expected as businesses are reopened and people head back to work and socialising, but authorities now believe they have the systems, equipment and hospitals capacity in place to jump on outbreaks quickly and treat people who get sick.
Calls for population wide random surveys have been rejected.
In its latest advice to the national cabinet, the national health advisory committee said large-scale testing of people without symptoms would not be effective or efficient.
"In the current suppression setting, many thousands of people may have to be tested to find a single asymptomatic person infected with SARS-CoV-2, whose risk of transmission to others is considered to be low," the committee said.
"Such an approach would require a very large expenditure of resources, which could be better directed towards the detection and management of symptomatic cases.
"Further, when the level of community infections is low, the proportion of false positives becomes higher. A false positive result can have significant negative impacts for both individuals and their communities, as well as affecting confidence in SARS-CoV-2 testing more broadly."
Instead, the committee wants to see more testing of people with fever or acute respiratory illness, with only 30 per cent of people in the category being tested.
- For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
- You can also call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
- If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000)
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