COVID-19 Testing information

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 in the 14 days prior to illness onset:

  • Close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case; OR
  • International travel, including cruise ship passengers and crew; in the 14 days prior to illness onset; OR
  • Travel to a geographical area of risk within Australia; OR
  • Healthcare, aged or residential care workers and staff with direct patient contact.

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/blocked 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.

Testing of asymptomatic individuals is not generally recommended. However, some individuals may be asked by ACT Health (or another public health authority such as NSW Health) to be tested even if asymptomatic.

Geographical areas of risk (as of 25/02/2021)

Current geographical areas of risk for COVID-19 transmission are:


  • Any overseas country (including New Zealand)

Testing Locations

  • GPs can collect specimens for COVID-19 themselves if they wish to. Please refer to the Specimen Collection Guidelines for details.
  • Patients can be directed to one of the COVID-19 Testing Clinics located across the ACT. 
    • Testing is performed free of charge for symptomatic individuals.
    • No appointment is required for ACT Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics. Appointments are required for the GP Respiratory Clinics in Crace and Greenway.
    • Clinic locations, opening hours and booking details (where relevant) are available on the ACT COVID-19 website. Many testing clinics operate 7 days a week. 
    • Please note that asymptomatic individuals cannot be tested at these clinics, unless directed to be tested by ACT Health or another public health authority (e.g. NSW Health). Other asymptomatic patients who require COVID-19 testing (e.g. prior to boarding an international flight) can be sent to private pathology collection centres with a request form. Patients may be charged for their test in these circumstances.
  • Patients can be sent to a suitable private pathology collection centre with a pathology request form. 
Page last updated on: 25 Feb 2021