SA Cases Dip As Changes To Testing Requirements Gear Up
‘The horse has bolted’
South Australia reported 3,070 new infections on Thursday after it was revealed rapid antigen tests (RAT) will be made free for concession card holders.
It marks a slight dip from 3493 infections reported the day before.
There are currently 123 people in hospital with Covid, while 12 of those are in ICU and one patient is on a ventilator.
The new cases were detected from more than 19,000 PCR swabs collected on Wednesday, while 19,998 vaccine doses were administered at state-run hubs.
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Premier Steven Marshall has reaffirmed the state's move to using rapid antigen tests instead of PCR testing as “a huge logistical exercise ... but this is the appropriate response for this (stage) of the disease”.
Under SA's new guidelines, close contacts of a positive Covid case will receive two rapid testing kits, one to be used for day 1 and the second on day 6.
It comes as health experts warn case numbers will less likely reflect the true number of Covid community cases after Wednesday's national cabinet meeting, where the federal government slashed testing requirements in a bid to ease pressure on testing sites and procedures.
The new rules, now stipulate that people who deliver a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) will no longer need to confirm their diagnosis with a PCR test.
The critical change from PCR to rapid testing does however present a major concern for many medical experts, who say cases numbers may increasingly become less representative of state and territory’s infection rates.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely said surveillance will no longer be accurate.
"The horse has bolted, this is the biggest policy failure so far in Australia," he told the Seven Network on Thursday.
"We also haven't thought about how you can load up that data to the surveillance system, so we won't get that in place in the next couple of weeks."
Instead, experts are calling for the government to roll out an online booking system for home tests sold in Australia to be equipped with a QR code for patients to upload their results, to more accurately reflect infection figures.
In the meantime, the PM urges anybody who tests positive with an at-home kit to contact their GP so their result can be included in official daily tallies.
“That is always your first point of contact when it comes to managing your illness, if you are not in hospital. And your GP would be able to assist you through telehealth if you need to go and get further treatment in hospital,” he said.
There is currently no way to register a positive rapid antigen test with health authorities, meaning those infections will not be included in daily case numbers.
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