COVID-19 testing criteria—recent updates

2 Apr 2020

The current Australian Government criteria for COVID-19 testing, based on advice from the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee were expanded on March 25.

Patients eligible for testing include:

Anyone who develops a fever or acute respiratory infection; AND

  • Has arrived in Australia from overseas within 14 days of developing symptoms; or
  • Has been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of developing symptoms; or
  • Is a health worker working directly with patients; or
  • Has severe community-acquired pneumonia with no clear cause.

In addition, testing should be done on those with fever or acute respiratory infection:

  • Who are health workers or aged/residential care worker; or
  • Live in a geographically isolated area with an elevated risk of transmission; or
  • Live in aged and residential care, a rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community; a detention or correctional facility, a boarding school or a military base; or
  • Have been hospitalised with an unknown cause of symptoms.

Some states have expanded their testing criteria beyond the Australian Government criteria:

  • NSW and the ACT are also testing those with symptoms who either have connections to COVID-19 outbreak settings or have been on a cruise ship within 14 days of developing symptoms;
  • NSW is additionally testing those with symptoms who have been referred by their GP to be tested, or whose clinician expects they may have COVID-19 after taking a full history;
  • Tasmania and South Australia are also testing interstate travellers who have developed fever or acute respiratory infection within 14 days of arriving;
  • Victoria is also testing anyone with fever or acute respiratory infection who is also Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
  • Western Australia is also testing those with symptoms who have been on a cruise ship within 14 days of developing symptoms, and police officers with symptoms.