COVID-19 testing criteria

19 Mar 2020

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has endorsed guidelines for COVID-19 testing, and recommend testing where a patient meets both the current epidemiological and clinical criteria.

The epidemiological criteria include: 

  • international travel in the 14 days before illness onset; or
  • close or casual contact in the 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (this needs to be interpreted sensibly; we do not have sufficient testing kits to test everyone who attends the same large concert as a person with COVID-19). 

And the clinical criteria include: 

  • fever; or
  • acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) with or without fever.

In addition, if the patient: 

  • has bilateral severe community-acquired pneumonia and no other cause is identified, with or without recent international travel, they are classified as a suspect case. 
  • or has moderate or severe community-acquired pneumonia (hospitalised) and is a healthcare worker, with or without international travel, they are classified as a suspect case.

More information about the testing guidelines, and other advice on non-inpatient care of persons with suspected for confirmed COVID-19, including the use of PPE, is available from the Department of Health here.

The COVID-19 Communicable Diseases Network Australia National Guidelines for Public Health Units (as of 13 March) are available here.