Supermarket workers face random COVID-19 tests

Supermarket workers could be randomly tested for COVID-19 as Australia looks at expanding its testing regime.

More than 400,000 Australians have been tested for the coronavirus in recent weeks making Australia a global leader.

The National Cabinet had asked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to consider changes to its testing strategy before any social distancing restrictions are eased.

 

A COVID-19 pop-up test site has been set up in Bondi. Picture: David Swift.
A COVID-19 pop-up test site has been set up in Bondi. Picture: David Swift.

On Saturday, Prof Kelly and other health experts discussed expanding Australia's testing strategy to include people living or working in high-risk areas like supermarkets, but who may not have symptoms.

"Most infectious disease surveillance that has happened up til now in relation to COVID-19 has relied on people who are sick going to seek treatment at a doctor," Prof Kelly said.

 

"What we're talking about here is something much, much broader. Trying to find cases that wouldn't necessarily come to hospital because we know that people that are mildly sick may not come to hospital or to the GP or to one of the COVID clinics."

"They may not recognise the signs as being this particular illness. They may not have symptoms at all in fact, but still be infectious."

Supermarkets have introduced screens to protect workers from being exposed to COVID-19. Picture: Dallas Kilponen
Supermarkets have introduced screens to protect workers from being exposed to COVID-19. Picture: Dallas Kilponen

 

Prof Kelly said Australia had advance to a new stage of the epidemic which could see "relatively random testing" offered to people in high risk situations.

"I know in other countries they've done testing of supermarket employees, for example, people that are at risk insofar as they are in contact with many people in a day."

"We want to see how we can actively go out into the community to find more cases."

Originally published as Supermarket workers face random COVID-19 tests