Fury as hundreds of Covid tests lost in Queensland

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

Furious Queensland residents have vented their frustration after a testing bungle saw hundreds of potential Covid samples lost. 

Private company Covax Australia was operating two drive-through testing clinics in Brisbane over the Christmas period but has since been removed from the Queensland Health website for testing clinics. 

A small batch of tests were inaccurately labelled by Covax at the pop-up clinics and were subsequently unable to be processed by pathology units.

According to the ABC, more than 250 people were still waiting for their results on Tuesday, some of whom had already been isolating for nearly a week. 

Brady Watson was among those told by Covax Australia to get tested again. 

Waiting in isolation, Queenslanders have been told their test sample was mishandled. Source: Facebook/AAP
Waiting in isolation, Queenslanders have been told their test sample was mishandled. Source: Facebook/AAP

"The stress that we went through that day just to find a place, just to be in vain, and have no result whatsoever — it's incredibly frustrating," he told the ABC. 

Like others, Mr Watson was told his test was "inadequately labelled".

Others took to social media to express their anger, with some sharing a text message from Queensland Pathology informing them of the error.

"Was advised to get retested. They [Queensland Pathology] weren’t able to provide evidence of test," one person wrote.

'One poor collector made a mistake'

Covax Australia director and co-founder Mannu Kala told Yahoo News Australia that "one poor collector made a mistake". 

"It's quite disheartening that this has happened. But the whole thing is blown out of proportion," he said.

Mr Kala said Covax Australia "is a basic pandemic response company" that has worked with Queensland Health during the pandemic. 

When private companies closed down over Christmas, Covax stepped in to help with the sky-high testing demand with Mr Kala saying he gave up his own Christmas day to work alongside his staff.

Of the roughly 30,000 tests conducted over that period, less than 200 samples were impacted, he said.

"It was just one collector that mislabelled the specimens ... it happens in every pathology company."

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has delivered a clear-eyed truth. Source: AAP
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has delivered a clear-eyed truth. Source: AAP

Queensland braces for 'hundred of thousands' of cases

The testing bungle comes as Queensland's Chief Health Officer John Gerrard warns of "hundreds of thousands" of positive cases in the state. 

Dr Gerrard said cases are steadily rising with 23 per cent of Pathology Queensland's tests being positive on Monday, however most people are being protected by vaccines.

"So the disease that we are seeing at the moment bears no resemblance to the disease that was being reported last year both in Australia and overseas because of vaccination, largely because of vaccination," he told reporters on Tuesday.

The CHO said there were 25,924 active cases in Queensland and that number will steadily grow through January into early February.

"The numbers of cases we are expected to see through January will be very high. Certainly in the hundreds of thousands, if not more, in Queensland, very high," Dr Gerrard said.

As cases rise, testing capacity is being stretched in Queensland after a number of private providers did not open as planned on Tuesday.

The closures of multiple clinics led to Queensland Health centres being flooded with people seeking tests and long traffic jams across the southeast.

"I understand that getting tested now can be very difficult and my heart goes out to those who have had had to wait for long, long periods of time in queues or missed out," Dr Gerrard said.

with AAP

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