New coronavirus testing criteria announced for more Australians

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

More Australians will have access to coronavirus testing as the government continues to ramp up efforts to stop the spread of the deadly infection.

Following another National Cabinet meeting Wednesday evening, it was announced people including healthcare workers, aged care workers, and people in “high risk” settings, would now be tested.

The Prime Minister revealed additional COVID-19 tested was part of a new wave of recommendations made by the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC).

People with fever or acute respiratory infection working in the healthcare and aged care industry will have access to tests, as well as those in “geographically localised areas where there is elevated risk of community transmission”.

An “elevated risk” would be defined by the local public health unit, Mr Morrison said.

Testing would also be available, where no community transmission is occurring, in high risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases.

Hospital staff assist people waiting in line at a Melbourne COVID-19 clinic. Source: AAP

This includes people in aged and residential care, rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, detention centres/correctional facilities, boarding schools and military bases (including Navy ships) that have live-in accommodation.

Previously, Australians would only be tested for coronavirus if they had returned from overseas and were showing symptoms, or if they had been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Speaking to media Thursday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state had already relaxed the testing criteria to include healthcare workers and high risk individuals.

There have been several reports of elderly patients contracting the virus from aged-care workers.

An 82-year-old man dying after he contracting it from an infected worker at BaptistCare's Dorothy Henderson Lodge in Macquarie Park, in Sydney.

His death followed that of a 95-year-old fellow resident at fellow Dorothy Henderson Lodge resident.

A sign directing people to the COVID-19 screening area outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Source: AAP

Surgeons freed up to treat COVID-19

On Wednesday it was announced that all elective surgeries, unless urgent, would be put on hold.

From midnight, most category two semi-urgent surgeries and all category three procedures that were planned to be performed this year, were cancelled.

It comes as police in NSW escalate measures to crack down on people not abiding by social distancing and self quarantine rules.

Officers from Thursday will have the power to issue fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.

A total of 2431 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Australia, as the death toll rose to nine on Wednesday after a 68-year-old Queensland man died.

Of those with the virus, 197 people are in hospital with 17 in intensive care. 

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