COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. An outbreak of COVID-19 started in Hubei Province in China in December 2019 and subsequently spread to many other countries worldwide. The World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2020.
COVID-19 is a notifiable condition under the ACT Public Health Act 1997. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 must be reported to the Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Section as soon as practicable by calling (02) 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours.
Testing criteria in the ACT:
Test all patients who meet the suspect case definition:
Fever (≥37.5°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) OR loss of sense of smell or taste
One of the following epidemiological risk factors:
- Close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the 14 days prior to illness onset; OR
- International or interstate travel in the 14 days prior to illness onset (this does not include people who live in NSW close to the ACT and regularly travel to the ACT); OR
- Travel on a cruise ship (including passengers and crew) in the 14 days prior to illness onset; OR
- Healthcare, aged or residential care workers and staff with direct patient contact; OR
- Hospitalised patients, where no alternate explanation of the patient’s illness is evident.
In addition to the suspect case definition, test anyone who meets the following clinical criteria:
- Fever (≥37.5°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweat, chills) in the absence of a clear alternative cause, such as a urinary tract infection or cellulitis
- Acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat).
- Sudden onset of loss of sense of smell or taste
Patients with sudden onset of runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite can be tested for COVID-19 in the absence of fever or respiratory symptoms if no alternative cause for these symptoms is apparent, at the discretion of the treating clinician.