Virus crisis / ACT expands testing criteria

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THE ACT is aligning with NSW in expanding the criteria for COVID-19 testing.

The ACT’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman says the new criteria will apply from today (March 20).

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says: “Australia has one of the highest COVID-19 testing rates in the world, whether assessed in total number of tests, tests per million population or tests per number of confirmed cases.

“As at midday today there have been 2395 negative COVID-19 tests in the ACT, with a total of 19 confirmed cases in the territory.”

“There has been ongoing consideration of the assessment criteria for testing every day, to consider whether and when to expand those criteria.

“Most recently, the criteria were expanded to include healthcare workers with recent onset of respiratory symptoms and fever, irrespective of travel history.

“From this afternoon, the ACT will align with NSW in expanding testing for our most vulnerable Canberrans – including those in aged care facilities. This will further strengthen our ability to identify any possible community transmission.

“People will also be able to be tested where they present with acute respiratory illness or fever and reported links to settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred within Australia. This will be on the advice of ACT Health.

“This change takes into consideration the renewed supply of testing reagent, as well as the increase in the number of cases both in the ACT and across Australia,” Minister Stephen Smith said.

The new testing criteria are:

  1. Travellers from overseas with onset of respiratory symptoms (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) or fever (≥38C) within 14 days of return.
  2. Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with respiratory symptoms or fever within 14 days of last contact.
  3. Healthcare workers with recent onset of respiratory symptoms AND fever irrespective of travel history. Healthcare workers who have fever OR respiratory symptoms should be assessed for testing on a case-by-case basis.
  4. Patients admitted to hospital with acute respiratory illness or unexplained fever (e.g. not associated with a urinary tract infection).
  5. Patients with acute respiratory illness or unexplained fever in other high risk settings, such aged care facilities, residential care facilities, boarding schools, and cruise ships.
  6. Patients with acute respiratory illness or fever presenting with reported links to settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, in discussion with CDC.

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