AN HOUR AGO | 11.28AM
Australia’s virus testing ‘very accurate’
The federal health department says the test used for coronavirus is very accurate, as concerns have been raised in the US about the quality of its testing.
Media reports have suggested some forms of testing used by US doctors have high rates of false negatives — as much as 70 per cent compared with the best tests.
But a health department spokesman told AAP the test used in Australia — nucleic acid amplification (polymerase chain reaction) — is “very accurate”.
During testing, a swab specimen is collected from a patient’s throat and nose. If the patient is producing sputum, a sputum specimen is collected. In hospitals, specimens from the lower respiratory tract may be collected. The time from the specimen arriving in a pathology laboratory to when a result is authorised by a pathologist is usually in a few hours for a negative result. Positive results can take longer because confirmatory testing is performed. The time it takes from testing to the patient being made aware of the result can vary.
The spokesman said false negative and positive results can occur “for reasons not associated with the test”.
“For example, poor specimen quality is a common cause of false negative results. It is best to collect specimens from patients with symptoms.”
LACHLAN MOFFET GRAY
2 HOURS AGO | 11.02AM