South Australian COVID-19 testing will focus on specific cohorts of the population, as the state's pandemic response moves into suppression phase.
The testing cohorts identified in the Active Testing Surveillance Framework include health care workers, residential aged care workers, transport workers, homeless persons, prison inmates, and seasonal workers.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said South Australia’s Active Testing Surveillance Framework will enhance the already world-class testing focussed on symptomatic people to enhance surveillance of specific occupational groups.
“South Australia is leading the nation with COVID-19 surveillance and we know timely testing, effective contact tracing and quarantining have been vital in the great results we have seen in South Australia so far,” Minister Wade said.
“As we move into the suppression phase of our pandemic response, by providing additional opportunities for testing specific groups who either work with vulnerable populations or who may have less access to COVID-19 testing clinics, we will be able to further protect the community.
“While there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 in the state, it is extremely important that we continue to plan for every possible outcome of the virus."
The minister said that testing of homeless people has commenced.
“The next priority for active surveillance testing will be the healthcare and aged care workforce.
“SA Pathology has the capacity and capabilities to support the continued testing of symptomatic people as well as targeted surveillance testing, so it is the right time for us to commence this testing regime.
“In addition, private pathology is increasing its testing capabilities within South Australia. We are working with them to maximise the health outcomes for South Australians.”
SA Pathology’s Executive Director of Clinical Services, Dr Tom Dodd, said maintaining a high testing rate of every South Australian regardless of the level of symptoms is essential to prevent any large outbreaks within the community.
“It is vital we randomly test people from different occupational or population cohorts to ensure we don’t have any unidentified community transmission that we aren’t aware of,” Dr Dodd said.
“South Australians have done a great job so far in getting themselves tested when showing any symptoms of COVID-19 and this is yet another way we can continue to help to stop the spread and not undo the good.”
A COVID-19 Surveillance Committee has been established to oversee the implementation of surveillance testing. The Committee includes the Chief Public Health Officer, Chief Medical Officer, a pathology expert and representatives from procurement and supply chain management, and Wellbeing SA.
The Committee will consult with private and public pathology providers to ensure testing capacity and capabilities throughout.
Work is underway to reach out to occupational groups to determine the best ways of implementation across the cohorts.