New rapid coronavirus test a game changer
QUEENSLAND is preparing to introduce a rapid test for pandemic coronavirus that will provide results within about an hour, rather than up to three days, an advance expected to allow public health authorities to better track the spread of the virus.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the new test was undergoing approval from Australia's medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration. She expected it to be available in Queensland within a month.
Having a faster test will give public health doctors a headstart on contact tracing, ensuring close contacts of COVID-19 cases go into quarantine as soon as possible, hopefully snuffing out potential transmission.
Rigorous testing has been credited with keeping COVID-19 contained in Queensland so far.
The state has conducted more than 50,800 tests, with a positive rate of about 1.5 per cent.
Although the new rapid testing will not be available everywhere, it's expected to be rolled out in 28 centres across the state, including Brisbane and Townsville where the bulk of the pandemic coronavirus tests have been done to date.
Having only laboratories in Brisbane and Townsville able to perform the tests to this point has meant samples have sometimes had to be trucked hundreds of kilometres, dragging out results to up to three days.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
Queensland coronavirus notifications rose by 40 yesterday, taking the state's total to 781 - a five per cent jump.
Although new cases are emerging daily, the growth rate is steadily slowing in Queensland, providing more hope that strict border controls, quarantine and social distancing are working together to "flatten the curve". However, tough public health restrictions are expected to stay in place for months.
Queensland cases of COVID-19 have jumped from 443 to 781 in the past seven days, a rise of 76 per cent. That compares with the previous week when infections skyrocketed from 94 to 443, or 371 per cent.
Australia has 4860 infections, with Queensland making up 16 per cent of those.
Dr Young said the state continued to remain free of significant community transmission of the virus.
"Police have been working very hard at both airports and at roads - our land borders - to manage people coming in from other states," she said. "Our biggest concern is those travellers coming to us from Sydney and Melbourne, because they do have community spread and that means they don't know everyone in their community who has the infection."
Dr Young told a news conference in Townsville that social distancing measures across the country essentially "put a border in front of every person's door".
She said people should not be leaving home except for reasons such as buying essential supplies, accessing health care, providing support to a vulnerable person or going to work if the job could not be done at home.
School attendance rates have dropped to between five and 10 per cent of normal numbers this week, mostly the children of essential workers.
Dr Young said exercise was also an acceptable reason for being outside the home, but this did not include sunbathing on the local beach.
"People need to get out and … exercise. That is so important and that needs to continue," Dr Young said.
"But it can only be done in your immediate family or in a group of two. Maybe go and play golf with two people in that group, not the regular four. Or go and play tennis with two people, not doubles."
Originally published as New rapid coronavirus test a game changer