Outbreak management and high priority coronavirus (COVID-19) tests

Outbreak management and high priority coronavirus (COVID-19) tests

21 May, 2020

Clinicians are being asked to provide more information on the urgency of certain samples collected for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. This document provides guidance to clinicians regarding ‘at-risk’ groups that are considered high priority for testing and the requirements of labelling these samples. The department’s current definition of an outbreak of COVID-19 for the purposes of outbreak management is:

  • A single confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member of a residential and aged care facilities (RACF), OR 
  • Two or more epidemiologically linked cases outside of a household with symptom onset within 14 days.  

Priority groups for testing as of 19 May 2020

The following samples are considered URGENT PRIORITY samples and are listed in priority order:

  • Priority 1 (P1): OUTBREAK – including CLOSE CONTACT(s) OF CONFIRMED CASE, people located in QUARANTINE HOTEL(s), and  SYMPTOMATIC resident or staff member of a known RACF OUTBREAK
  • Priority 2 (P2): SYMPTOMATIC HEALTH CARE WORKERS including AGED CARE WORKERS; SYMPTOMATIC aged care residents and hospital patients.
  • Priority 3 (P3): OTHER ‘AT-RISK SETTINGS’ – for SYMPTOMATIC people identified to be from other ‘at-risk’ settings as determined by the referring clinician.

Clinicians may determine other ‘AT-RISK’ SETTINGS to be:

  • Prison/Justice settings (correctional facilities, detention centres)
  • Aboriginal rural and remote communities
  • Accommodation with shared facilities
  • Defence force operational settings
  • Boarding schools
  • Other group residential settings (eg. disability)
  • Schools 
  • Childcare centres
  • Remote industrial sites with accommodation (e.g. mine sites)
  • Certain high-risk work sites where workers are unable to undertake physical distancing or where outbreaks have been identified in the past: 
    • Meat processing or other manufacturing plants 
    • Restaurants/industrial kitchens 
    • Workplaces with highly casualised workforces (who may be less likely to report symptoms)\
    • Critical infrastructure dependent workplaces – such as electricity worker

Read the full communique by DHHS 19 May