A NSWHP staff member working with a Covid-19 sample.
A NSWHP staff member working with a Covid-19 sample. NSW Health

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COFFS Harbour patients at high risk of dying from Covid-19 will have reliable access to new rapid testing kits for Covid-19.

The high-speed kits which are in high demand around the world slash wait times for results to just one hour.

But because of a massive global shortage they had to be rationed and Coffs Harbour was one of only five NSW towns using them.

NSW Health Covid-19 testing: NSW Health has now secured access to the American made kits, which will be rolled out to 29 labs across the state.
NSW Health Covid-19 testing: NSW Health has now secured access to the American made kits, which will be rolled out to 29 labs across the state.

NSW Health has now secured access to the American made kits which will be rolled out to 29 labs across the state.

A new supply chain means they can be shipped from the USA based on demand.

The fast-response kits - known as polymerase chain reaction or PCR kits - are used only on high-risk patients and essential health workers.

A patient's sample is tested for Covid-19.
A patient's sample is tested for Covid-19. NSW Health

Once nose and throat swabs are taken, the samples are transferred to the lab and a positive or negative result will be ready in an hour.

That compares to up to 72 hours it can take for standard testing to be completed.

The arsenal is vital to responding quickly to potential outbreaks among high-risk patients such as residents of nursing homes.

Getting immediate answers helps initiate contact tracing almost instantly and isolate infected patients as well as begin urgent treatment.

The Mid North Coast Health region has to date completed 4964 Covid-19 tests (including rapid testing), with 50 people returning positive results.

NSW Health process a sample testing for Covid-19.
NSW Health process a sample testing for Covid-19. NSW Health

Most coronavirus patients have recovered and there are currently none in hospital or the intensive care unit.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the rapid testing kits would give medical teams hours up their sleeves.

"The faster we can isolate higher risk patients and quarantine their contacts, the less likely they can unknowingly spread it to others," Mr Hazzard said.

"These kits are in high demand globally but NSW Health Pathology is working with clinicians to ensure our most high-risk patients reap the benefits," he said.

NSW Health Pathology can perform more than 8,000 tests per day within its specialist laboratories.