The state currently only offers tests to close contacts of confirmed cases, people with obvious coronavirus symptoms and wider testing in hotspot areas.
However, as NSW’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told the Sydney Morning Heraldthe state is hoping to widen those parameters as soon as possible.
Dr Chant will meet with private pathology labs later today to see if the state has enough equipment to deliver widespread testing.
“If we have enough testing kits and swabs and collection points, we will be announcing testing is open to anyone with symptoms who wants a COVID test,” Dr Chant said.
Greg Granger, director of Sydney’s St Vincent Hospital’s pathology service SydPath, also told the publication it was likely everyone in the city would eventually be tested.
“There is an inevitability with any virus, particularly a novel virus,” he said.
“It can get away from us at any time.
“Everyone in Sydney will eventually be tested and retested and probably retested again.”
Mr Granger said pathology labs were now managing to deliver coronavirus results in 24 hours – crucial to helping health authorities contact trace and get positive cases in isolation as soon as possible.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian commented on the plan this morning and said testing criteria would continue to be relaxed.
“We are looking to expand the testing regime. We already have, on average, on a good day, between 4000 and 4500, even 5000 people getting tested,” she said.
“ We’ve nominated the hot spots where that testing should occur in our more proactive way. We’re asking everybody in those hot spots to come forward.
“We’re also asking people who work with vulnerable communities or work in jobs where they’re in contact with a lot of people, even through social distancing, to come forward and get tested as well.
“And in the future, of course, we will see that relaxed even further to the extent where others will be asked to come and get proactively tested. We have one of the highest testing rates in the world and that’s one of the reasons I believe New South Wales is in the position we are when it comes to fighting the COVID virus.”
The announcement comes as a third elderly resident from a western Sydney nursing home died from coronavirus.
Newmarch House, home to around 100 residents, was hit with a coronavirus outbreak after one of its employees worked for six days with mild symptoms.
Dr Chant said the worker was “mortified” after learning they had been at the aged care residence with the virus, which has now infected 28 residents and 14 staff.
More than 171,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in NSW with the state confirming 2974 cases and 33 deaths, including the death of the 92-year-old Newmarch House resident yesterday.
NSW’s hopes to increase testing capacity comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was one of the key measures needed to pull Australia out of lockdown.
The Federal Government has already started to wind back some restrictions, announcing elective surgery and IVF would resume after the Anzac Day long weekend.