How to get tested for coronavirus in the NT

by | Apr 1, 2020 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

The NT Government says 2,131 Territorians have been tested for coronavirus as of Monday, with the figure continuing to climb.

NT Health has maintained that all 19 COVID-19 cases in the Territory are travel-related and no community transmission has been detected yet.  

One infected patient is in intensive care at Royal Darwin Hospital, one has recovered and no deaths have been recorded.

Here’s what to do if you think you may have coronavirus:

If you are unwell, you must call a physician. It could be best to speak to your doctor via phone or make a virtual consultation if your doctor offers that feature. It’s advised to reconsider hospital visits right now if you have a non-emergency clinical concern to avoid exposure to unknown infections.

  • If you are sick and think you have symptoms immediately seek medical attention. You should call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures. 
  • If your symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history and any close contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19.
  • You can check your symptoms via the “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker” on the Australian Government’s healthdirect website.: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/symptom-checker/tool/basic-details

The World Health Organization (WHO) has clarified that having symptoms of respiratory illness does not automatically translate to having COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.  

In every country, coronavirus testing parameters differ as an absolute knowledge on the virus continues to be emerging including transmission patterns, severity, clinical features, and risk factors for infection.

Criteria for getting tested

It’s very important to be transparent to your physician in disclosing your travel history. Here’s the criteria for coronavirus testing:

  • You have returned from interstate or overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever.
  • You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever.
  • You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause.
  • You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and you have a respiratory illness and a fever.

TESTING FACILITIES IN THE NT

There are laboratory tests that can identify the virus that causes COVID-19 in respiratory specimens. Depending on where you are, you may be directed to a special testing facility.

Here’s NT Health’s instructions:

  • Contact your GP via phone for advice on whether you require testing.
  • If you can’t contact your GP, call 1800 008 002 to talk to a clinician. This is a dedicated NT-wide COVID-19 number for people who need to arrange testing only.

DARWIN REGION

  • If you live in Darwin and need to arrange testing, call the Public Health Unit on 8922 8044.
  • The COVID-19 health facility in Howard Springs is a drive-through testing clinic.
  • It is one of a number of pandemic clinics open in the Darwin area, including clinics at Royal Darwin Hospital and the Palmerston GP Super Clinic.
  • Access to the Howard Springs facility is by appointment only through the NT Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

TENNANT CREEK             

  • Present to Tennant Creek Hospital reception area.
  • Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation

ALICE SPRINGS AND CENTRAL AUSTRALIA

  • Central Clinic and Mall Medical can carry out testing.
  • You must phone to make an appointment. If you are very unwell you should go to the Alice Springs Hospital Emergency Department.
  • Central Australia Aboriginal Congress. You must call ahead to make testing arrangements.

AFTER TESTING

  • It may take a few days for the test results to come back.
  • If you have serious symptoms, you will be kept in hospital and isolated from other patients to prevent the virus spreading.
  • If your doctor says you are well enough to go home while you wait for your test results, it’s important to do all of the following:
  • self-quarantine at home and do not attend work or school
  • wash your hands often with soap and water
  • cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • avoid cooking for or caring for other members of your household
  • wear the mask your doctor gives you if you can’t avoid close contact with other people.

IF YOUR TEST IS POSITIVE:

  • If your test is positive, you will be able to access isolation accommodation at the Howard Springs facility.
  • The facility has isolation (red zone) for people with COVID-19 who don’t need to go to the hospital.
  • Appropriate supervision and support will be provided.

TESTING IN OTHER COUNTRIES

Test kits shortage in other parts of the globe remain and different states have devised their own testing kits to conduct early detection of the virus to contain its spread. In the UK, their Government has bought 3.5 million finger-prick antibody tests. Britons will be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home, with finger-prick kits that will be available from Amazon and Boots.

However, the FDA has warned that it has “not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home” and urged people to avoid at-home COVID-19 tests.

Meanwhile, Spain, one of the badly hit nations, has withdrawn 58,000 Chinese-made testing kits after it emerged that they had an accurate detection rate of just 30 per cent.

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