There has unfortunately been some misreporting in the media about the new testing criteria released by the Ministry of Health on 3/4/20. Despite what some media groups are saying, testing is still being restricted, but there has been widening of the criteria.

The Ministry of Health state “Ideally all people meeting the case definition for COVID-19 would be tested to confirm or exclude a diagnosis. While work is underway to increase testing capacity, analysing every sample may not be possible”

The new testing criteria is complex but effectively you have to have symptoms and be in a “priority group” (those most likely to have COVID-19, the most vulnerable, and those who are the most likely to infect multiple people)

The new criteria can be found here, but the important points about being eligible for testing are summarised below.

Symptomatic and non-symptomatic close contacts of confirmed, probable, and suspected cases are managed differently, and testing criteria for these people is not summarised on this page.

Also please be aware that public health have directed that we refer people out to be tested at one of the specific testing clinics rather than test people ourselves. We have been told that we are not allowed to order any more swabs.


Any acute respiratory infection with at least one of the following symptoms: cough, sore throat,
shortness of breath, coryza (runny nose/nasal congestion), anosmia (loss of sense of smell), with or without fever.


Where they or one or more of their household/bubble, meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • people meeting the clinical criteria who have travelled overseas in the last 14 days, or have had contact, in
    the last 14 days, with someone else who has recently travelled overseas
  • hospital inpatients who meet the clinical criteria
  • health care workers meeting the clinical criteria
  • other essential workers meeting the clinical criteria if they have had close or casual contact with a probable
    or confirmed COVID-19 case
  • people meeting the clinical criteria who reside in (or are being admitted into) a vulnerable communal
    environment including aged residential care, or large extended families in confined household/ living
  • people meeting the clinical criteria who may expose a large number of contacts to infection (including
    barracks, hostels, halls of residence, shelters etc)
  • In addition, testing may be required on advice from the local Medical Officer of Health, when an outbreak or cluster is suspected, or being investigated
  • As local testing capacity allows: consider suspect cases presenting with new or worsening cough.