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Clearance Tests for COVID-19 Needed

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Tags: COVID-19, Health

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

Tasmania recorded 27 active cases of COVID-19 two days ago, yet the number went up to 29 yesterday despite no new cases being reported. Public Health today confirmed two coronavirus patients, who were categorised as ‘recovered’ after their mandatory two week isolation, had subsequently redeveloped symptoms.

This is the second time in three weeks that people cleared as ‘recovered’ have redeveloped COVID-19 symptoms. It clearly isn’t a one-off, and it highlights the need to do clearance tests before people return to the community.

Tasmania’s COVID-19 testing guidelines should be expanded to ensure all patients return a negative test before they are cleared to leave isolation.

While national guidelines form the bedrock of testing around the country, they don’t and shouldn’t limit individual states taking further precautions. This is even more critical given restrictions are being eased in the next week and more people will be socialising.

Tasmania now has greatly expanded its testing capacity, but this capacity remains significantly under-utilised. The Premier is urging Tasmanians with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested, but every day hundreds of tests go unused.

With only 27 current active cases in the State, the testing effort required to reassure these people and the community that they are no longer infectious is miniscule. It makes no sense not to require coronavirus testing for all active cases at the end of isolation to ensure they are no longer infectious.

Tasmania has taken sensible and strong measures so far, and as we step slowly out of severe restrictions we should be double-checking every known infection before giving a clean bill of health.