Covid Testing Sites
Covid Testing Sites

Victoria lagging behind other states on COVID testing

Wimpy Victorians are being given saliva tests to check for COVID-19 even though they are wrong in more than 15 per cent of cases.

As braver NSW toughs it out with nasal and throat swabs, NSW Australian Medical Association president Dr Danielle McMullen said they were a bit more ­intrusive but worth it.

"It's a bit uncomfortable but it's not painful and the discomfort is short-lived," inner west GP Dr McMullen said.

"The key message is to get tested."

 

COVID-19 testing at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Picture: Tony Gough
COVID-19 testing at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Picture: Tony Gough

 

The cheaper and easier saliva tests are being rolled out door to door in a suburban blitz across 10 Melbourne suburbs where coronavirus has made a comeback with a total of 75 new cases reported to yesterday morning.

It comes after up to 30 per cent of travellers quarantining in Victorian hotels refused to be tested compared to less than two per cent in NSW.

Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would be speaking to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews about ramping up resources in the state to stamp out the disease including bringing in Defence personnel.

This extra manpower may be used to lock down hot-spot suburbs across Melbourne.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Victoria will have whatever it needs to fight the outbreak. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Victoria will have whatever it needs to fight the outbreak. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

"The Premier and I are very adamant that we do what is necessary to contain this outbreak," Mr Morrison said.

"Victoria will lead that ­approach and they will be the final arbiter of what steps they take, but we can leave no stone unturned and no ­resource left unapplied to this task."

The Melbourne-based Doherty Institute, which developed the saliva test and is working with the federal government on the virus, found the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs were 95 per cent accurate while saliva was between 84.6 per cent and 87 per cent.

The difference between the tests is that coronavirus often starts in the upper respiratory tract and most viral loads are picked up from the back of the nose, then the throat and then in saliva.

In the lab, they all undergo the same tests, Dr McMullen said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has ruled out saliva testing because it is not accurate enough.

 

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant won’t do saliva testing in NSW because it is too inaccurate. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant won’t do saliva testing in NSW because it is too inaccurate. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

 

She told the parliamentary committee examining the state government's management of the coronavirus yesterday that the state would review the reliability of new testing.

The main advantage of ­saliva testing is that it doesn't need trained testers and is not such a risk to healthcare workers.

Leading infectious diseases expert Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Doherty Institute, yesterday acknowledged the throat and nose testing was the "gold standard".

"Much better to have this done than to have no test at all, and we'll be working with the department in comparing it to throat swabs, as well as testing it in these other populations," Professor Lewin said.

Originally published as Victoria lagging behind other states on COVID testing


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