Australia's coronavirus case count has been in considerable decline over the past few weeks and as a result, testing criteria around the country are being eased. This means you might be eligible for a test even if you've just got a sore throat. Here's who can get tested for coronavirus in Australia.
Should I get tested?
First thing's first, there's the matter of who should get tested. At the start of Australia's coronavirus outbreak, the testing criteria was limited to people returning from overseas or being in contact with a known case.
This was employed to conserve the finite number of testing kits available at the time but greater supplies have since been secured and with the number of daily cases dropping off, states and territories are focusing on finding undetected community transmission and that means lifting the lid on testing criteria.
Now, the federal advice has been expanded to include people who:
- have returned from overseas in the past 14 days
- have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days
- travelled on a cruise ship (either passenger or crew) in the 14 days before developing symptoms
- are a health care, aged care or residential care worker
- have lived in an area where there is a higher risk of community transmission, as defined by the local public health unit
If you're still unsure, healthdirect offers a simple, easy-to-use symptom checker, which will run through your symptoms and where you live to determine whether you should get tested.
Outside of the more general federal advice, however, state health departments have begun allowing more people to test for the deadly virus. Here's how it varies from states to territories.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in NSW?
Being the epicentre of Australia's coronavirus outbreak, NSW was one of the first states to relax the testing criteria to allow for heightened community detection.
As of 28 April, NSW Health recommends "anyone with respiratory symptoms or unexplained fever should be tested for COVID-19".
Those symptoms could include a fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or a sore throat.
It mentions it's particularly important for those living in areas that are deemed hotspots for transmission. That list is updated regularly but some areas, mostly in Sydney, include the Inner West, Northern Beaches, Blacktown, Parramatta, Ryde and Waverley.
You can find a list of the testing clinics on the NSW Health website but it's important to follow any safety measures when you attend to ensure you're not unknowingly spreading the virus further.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in Victoria?
In the same vein as NSW, Victoria is expanding the testing criteria to allow for anyone who's experiencing symptoms in an effort to detect those with more mild symptoms.
"While the number of cases is low, there is still a chance that that the virus is present but undetected in the community," the department's advice reads.
"By increasing the testing for coronavirus, we can better track the spread of this virus. The increase in testing will provide a clearer picture of how the virus has spread in Victoria and will inform any potential easing of restrictions once the State of Emergency is reviewed by 11 May 2020."
If you have any of the following symptoms, you're encouraged to get tested:
- Chills or sweats
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Loss of sense of smell
Notably, its symptoms list includes a loss of smell, which is considered by doctors to be a potential coronavirus symptom. Check out the website for a list of available testing clinics.
As coronavirus continues to spread globally, researchers are racing to uncover more about it, including the appearance of a new symptom that's been appearing in some patients. It's called anosmia and some doctors would like it added to the list of official symptoms.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in Queensland?
Queensland updated its criteria on 24 April to allow for anyone who has coronavirus symptoms to be tested. It states anyone who's experiencing a fever (or history of fever) or acute respiratory symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath will now be able to get tested, regardless of whether they've travelled internationally recently or been in contact with a known case.
You'll first need to call a doctor and arrange an appointment and they will refer you to a testing clinic. It's important to call ahead so your local GP can make arrangements for your arrival.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in South Australia?
Between 16 April and 30 April, South Australia had a testing blitz in place, which allowed anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms to test.
It's expected that criteria will be reviewed but according to the state health's website, anyone who has a fever or chills (in the absence of an alternative illness that explains these symptoms) as well as any acute respiratory infection, such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, or loss of taste and smell, is eligible.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in Western Australia?
For Western Australians wanting to get tested, the criteria is clear. To be eligible, you'll need to satisfy one of the following:
- presenting with a fever (≥38°C)
- a recent history of a fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR
- an acute respiratory infection e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.
There are a number of Covid clinics across the state as well as select private pathology collection centres. Just remember, it's important to call ahead for either option.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in Tasmania?
In Tasmania, testing criteria has been updated as of 24 April. It now allows anyone with a fever, runny nose, cough, sore/itchy throat or shortness of breath to get tested. You'll need to get a referral from a GP or from the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738) in order to get tested so call head and book an appointment before you heading to any testing centres.
There are only six testing clinics in the state so travelling to your nearest one is permitted if none are particularly close. They include:
- Smithton (mobile clinic)
- Parkside – Burnie
- North West Regional Hospital (for NWRH and NWPH staff only) – Burnie
Who can get tested for coronavirus in Northern Territory?
The territory's site gives an outline of some of the testing clinics available including a drive-through option at the Howard Springs facility.
Who can get tested for coronavirus in ACT?
The ACT will allow anyone between 4 April and 8 May to get tested if they are exhibiting the following symptoms:
- Fever of 38 degrees or greater (or recent history of fever such as chills or night sweats); or
- Respiratory infection (such as shortness of breath, cough, or sore throat).
If that's you or someone you know, you'll need to see a GP or visit one of the territory's two Covid-centred clinics as long as you call ahead.
This article was originally published on 30 April, 2020.
The coronavirus outbreak has continued to spread wreaking more havoc in countries as governments test stringent measures in order to stop further cases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as Australia's own chief medical officer has maintained that most of the cases, however, are considered mild. Here's what that actually means.