ACT Government updates

COVID-19 testing criteria expanded for two weeks

April 23, 2020

An update on the expansion of COVID-19 testing from Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, issued at 12.01am Thursday 23 April:

The ACT Government is expanding its COVID-19 testing criteria for the next two weeks to get an even better view of the situation in our community.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT’s designated COVID-19 testing sites will be taking samples from all symptomatic people who present over the next two weeks. Expanded testing will begin on Friday 24 April.

“Canberrans have been doing an incredible job in helping us stop the spread of COVID-19 and we have now only uncovered one confirmed case in the past nine days,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“We are confident that we are in a very good position in the ACT. Given our low number of confirmed cases and extremely low number of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals, we do not expect to see a large number of undiagnosed cases.

“However, this increased testing will give us some really valuable information as we make decisions about the way forward.”

People will still need to have COVID-19 symptoms in order to be tested. These symptoms are:

  • Fever of 38 degrees or greater (or history of fever such as nightsweats); or
  • Acute respiratory illness (shortness of breath, cough, sore throat).

They will no longer need to have travelled overseas recently, be a close contact of a confirmed case or meet the other previously expanded criteria.

People who are tested under the new arrangements will still be required to self-quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the expansion in testing was made possible by the recent drop in demand for testing using the existing criteria.

“Due to excellent adherence to physical distancing rules and the reduction in returning overseas travellers, we have an increasing capacity to test other people from groups that are less likely to have come into contact with COVID-19,” Dr Coleman said.

“We have already been looking for COVID-19 cases in the community through testing of other high-risk groups but this increased surveillance will provide ACT Health with really important information about the prevalence or absence of COVID-19 in the ACT.”

People who have COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to call their general practitioner or to attend one of the designated testing services:

  • The Weston Creek Walk-in-Centre
  • The EPIC drive through testing site

Minister Stephen-Smith asked Canberrans to be patient when seeking testing.

“These expanded criteria will be in place for the next two weeks so there is no need for everybody to try and get tested on the first day,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.