Today’s NSW Numbers Are A Shock But A Sydney GP Has Explained The Sudden 5k Spike

nsw covid numbers spike christmas

There are no two ways about it. The NSW numbers today are really fucking high. If you’re yet to perceive them — and I can’t blame you for not wanting to — the state recorded a monstrous 11,201 new cases on Wednesday morning, probably resulting in multiple calls of “oh fuuuuuuuuck me” to echo out across the country.

However, like everything, there’s context. Context as to why the numbers have jumped 5000 cases in a day, and why it’s alarming but not entirely surprising.

Today is the first full day following a four-day Christmas period, as the public holidays for Christmas and Boxing Day landed on Monday and Tuesday. Though all testing clinics and pathology laboratories across the country likely didn’t come to a complete halt over the break, there likely would have been some shutdowns and reduced staff.

Dr Ziad Basyouny — who is a GP at the Macquarie Family Medical Centre — took to Twitter shortly after the NSW numbers dropped with a bit of an explanation to the sudden spike.

Less staff means fewer tests processed and filed, fewer text messages going out, and fewer cases recorded in the system. Combine that with the fact that thousands of people — probably hundreds of thousands of people — have lined up for hours on end to get tested over the last week or so for travel, close contacts, or positive rapid antigen results, a perfect storm of backlogs has been created.

Now we’re back from public holidays and returning to work as normal for the period between Christmas and New Years, that glut of tests is now being processed and rolled through the health system.

People who got tested nearly a week ago have revealed they’ve only gotten their results back in the last day or so, proving that the system is truly struggling to maintain its 24-48hr turnaround promise.

A pathology worker recently took to Reddit to explain why test results have been so delayed (and now causing big results following backlogs), and apparently, it comes down to what we all suspect: too many people are getting tested all at once.

Pathology labs batch-test swab samples, speeding up the process from older methods. That was all well and good when there were few positive samples in a batch, but now that the virus is spreading faster than we can think, it’s making things a lot more difficult.

“This method essentially boils down to mixing multiple samples together and testing them as one unit. If the test comes back negative, all samples in the batch are resulted accordingly,” they said.

“If the batch comes back as positive, we can run each sample individually to single out the culprit(s).

“It all starts to fall apart when this percentage increases and every other batch we test is positive and requires individual testing, deleting any further testing until the positive samples are identified.”

So although these NSW numbers are a lot, it’s good to keep this knowledge in the back of your mind as well. That and the knowledge that the vast majority of people who have had a PCR test for whatever reason have been isolating ever since, awaiting their results.

Still probably should wash your hands and wear a mask, though.