Hunter New England Health (HNEH) is calling on Cessnock locals to increase testing rates during a seven day COVID-19 testing blitz, starting Wednesday.
HNEH is setting up a specialised COVID-19 clinic at Cessnock Hospital to assist with boosting testing numbers in the community.
Public health physician Dr David Durrheim said although there had been very few cases in Hunter New England recently, with restrictions lifting, the blitz would assist efforts to identify any COVID-19 virus still circulating in the community.
"There were a cluster of COVID-19 cases identified in Cessnock during the virus peak, which makes it even more important to hunt the virus down and ensure there is no ongoing risk to the community," he said.
"We don't expect to find large numbers of cases - or indeed many at all - but testing is the only way we will know for sure."
Anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, is urged to get tested.
Even those with mild symptoms such as fatigue, new muscle aches or pains, a change in taste or smell or a new runny nose are encouraged to arrange testing.
The drive-through clinic will operate 10am to 6pm from Wednesday, May 20, until Tuesday, May 26.
Bookings are essential, and people should call 49910436 to register before attending.
The clinic is available for a limited time but may be extended depending on demand.
Dr Durrheim has also asked anyone with symptoms to isolate at home until they have received further advice from their GP or the hospital.
With the large number of people being tested across the district it can take up to 72 hours to receive results, so people are being urged to be patient while waiting.
Clinics at Maitland, Calvary Mater Newcastle, John Hunter, and Belmont hospitals are also available for Newcastle and Hunter locals.
The news comes after Cessnock MP Clayton Barr called for a testing facility the area on to help bring Cessnock testing rates to the same level as other local government areas in the Hunter region, on Monday.
"Having access to COVID-19 testing is going to be key to us avoiding a disastrous second wave and it is absolutely crucial that testing sites are local and easy to get to," he said.
"That is why I have been making representations for several weeks now to Hunter New England Health and to the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to provide at least one COVID-19 testing site inside of the Cessnock LGA."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here