Testing for COVID-19

Widespread testing is vital to track and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

It is recommended that people with any of the following symptoms get tested for COVID-19:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat, or
  • shortness of breath.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Testing is also being encouraged for people who fall into the following criteria:

  • All persons presenting with respiratory symptoms, or with history of recent respiratory symptoms (within the last 7 days)
  • Healthcare workers displaying symptoms or healthcare workers without symptoms. Household members of healthcare and aged care workers who are displaying symptoms are also encouraged to be tested
  • Close contacts of confirmed cases between days 10-12 of quarantine period
  • Non-essential travellers between days 10-12 of quarantine period.

In line with national guidelines, it is no longer recommended that patients being discharged from hospitals to residential aged care facilities are tested, if asymptomatic.

What does the test involve?

The COVID-19 test involves a healthcare worker taking samples with a swab from your nose and throat. The swabs will be sent away for testing.

To protect themselves when they are in close contact with you, healthcare workers will wear protective equipment, including a facemask and safety goggles.

Where can I be tested?

While some testing sites require bookings to be made, a limited number of mobile sites can provide for drive up testing without booking.

Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics

These clinics are best for people at higher risk of having COVID-19, including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine.

The Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics provide sample collection (testing) services only. Staff at the clinics do not provide health assessments or management of symptoms.

Results are usually provided within 48 hours.

These clinics will test children under 18.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

DatesLocationBookingsNotes
Ongoing

Hobart

Launceston

Booking required - call Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

On premises testing

Best option for high-risk people including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine (day 10-12).
8:30am - 3:30pm dailyDevonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)

Burnie, West Park, 'The Point' (10 Bass Highway)
No booking required

Mobile testing clinics

Coronavirus testing in rural and regional areas will be available in some communities through our mobile testing clinics.

DatesLocationBookingsNotes
4-6 July
10am - 3:30pm
Campbell Town, Campbell Town Sports Ground (High Street)No booking requiredDrive-up testing

Other testing options

These clinics are for people who have mild-to-moderate cold and flu symptoms. The clinics provide assessment, testing (if needed), and initial treatment of symptoms.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

These clinics will test children under 18.

Results are usually provided within 2-4 days. For more information and to book an appointment, go to the Primary Health Tasmania website.

It is a good idea to discuss testing with your usual GP.

Some GPs are doing COVID-19 sample collection/testing themselves; others may see you via telehealth and refer you for testing if required or suggest you make an appointment. GPs may charge for a consultation.

You will need to check with your GP if they test children under 18.

Results are usually provided within 2-4 days.

Do you have a disability that might affect you being tested?

Please let your GP or the Public Health Hotline know if you have access difficulties so they can refer you to the most appropriate clinic or arrange an alternative testing process.

Travelling to your testing appointment

It’s important to protect others.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms and there is a higher risk of you having COVID-19, please don’t travel to the clinic by bus, taxi or ride-sharing service. People at higher risk of having COVID-19 include:

  • a close contact of a confirmed case in the last 14 days
  • people who have recently travelled outside Tasmania in the past 14 days
  • symptomatic health or aged care workers.

If you don’t have your own transport, tell your GP or the Public Health Hotline when you make your appointment and ask for help getting to the testing clinic.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms but are not at higher risk, then it’s best to travel by private car but it’s OK to travel by public transport (bus, taxis or rideshare etc). When travelling to get tested:

  • if you have one, wear a facemask to protect others
  • before leaving home, make sure you and people travelling with you wash their hands well, with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly dirty)
  • maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5m between people
  • remember cough/sneeze etiquette (sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing)
  • go straight to the GP or testing clinic – don't stop on the way there or back.

I’m sick and have been tested for COVID-19. What should I do?

While you wait for your results it is highly recommended that you:

  • Stay at home. Self-isolate at home while you wait for your results and don’t go to work, school, shops or any other social gatherings.
    • If you need help with supplies or essential tasks outside your home, ask a friend or family member to help. Tell them to leave supplies at your door. If don’t have someone to help you, call the Public Health Hotline for support.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow. Put used tissues in the rubbish straight away and wash your hands.
  • Keep 1.5 metres (two large steps) away from other people or wear a mask. If you share your home, consider if you or other members of your household can stay elsewhere, especially if they are elderly or have underlying medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease. If this isn’t possible:
    • Stay at least 1.5 metres (two big steps) away from other household members. Wear a facemask if you need to be closer to household members.
    • Sleep in a separate bed and use a separate bathroom if you can.
    • Keep personal items (like towels, face washers and toothbrushes) separate.
    • Do not share food or drinks.
    • Stay away from shared spaces, like the kitchen (a shared garden is okay).
  • Do not have visitors while in self-isolation (even if they are also in self-isolation or quarantine). Tell family, friends and neighbours not to visit. Consider putting a note on your door to let people know.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Viruses can survive for a short time on surfaces and spread through hand contact.
  • Know when and how to seek further help.
    • If you get very sick or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell them you may have COVID-19.
    • If you feel stressed or anxious while you wait for your results, talk with someone. Lifeline has set up a new service to help Tasmanians effected by COVID-19. Call 1800 984 434 from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, 7 days.

See I've been tested for COVID-19. Now what? for more information.

I'm not sick/in quarantine, but I've been tested for COVID-19. What do I need to do?

Sometimes, Public Health Services will ask people to agree to get tested even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not in quarantine.

If this is you, you don’t need to self-isolate while you wait for the result.

You can go about your normal daily routine and continue to follow the rules in place for the whole community. See I've been tested but I'm not sick or in quarantine. Now what? for more information.

How will I find out my COVID-19 test result?

If you were tested at a Tasmanian Health Service Respiratory Clinic and your result is negative, you will either get a text message from ‘Tas Health’ or, if you don’t have a mobile phone or ask not to be notified by text, you will receive a phone call to inform you of your result.

If your result is negative, you do not need to self-isolate any longer unless Public Health has told you to stay in quarantine because you might have been exposed to the virus. If you are still sick you should still protect others from whatever germ is causing your illness. Stay at home as much as you can.

You should still follow the rules in place for the whole community to slow the spread of illness.

If your result is positive, Public Health Services will phone you to talk about the next steps.

If you have any questions or need advice about your test result, phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. Listen to the menu options and select the ‘Calling in relation to your test results’ option.

If you were tested by your GP or at a GP-led Respiratory Clinic, they will contact you directly with positive and negative results. If your result is positive, Public Health Services will also phone you to talk about the next steps.

Why not test people without symptoms?

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the disease and quarantining reduces the risk of those people mixing with other people and passing it on.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is similar to other States and Territories and is based on information from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. The Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from all Australian States and Territories and is the main national expert committee for advice about COVID-19 in Australia.

The focus of testing in Australia is to test people who have cold or flu like symptoms (however mild) – rather than testing people who don’t have any symptoms of illness.

The main reason for this is because people who have cold or flu like symptoms are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the illness on to other people than those who don’t have any symptoms – meaning that it is more important to identify those who have the illness and are showing symptoms because they are more likely to make others sick.

However there are times when it is important to test some people who don’t have symptoms. This includes workers in places where there are people who could be badly affected if they caught COVID-19. This includes health care workers and aged care workers. Sometimes people who don’t have symptoms are tested if there is a high chance they might develop COVID-19, such as some close contacts of confirmed cases and where there is an outbreak.

Apart from these type of situations however, the advice from Australia’s Chief Health Officers at this stage in Australia, with the current low level of transmission in the community, that it is more effective to continue to focus on testing of people with symptoms.

What if I’m not eligible for Medicare?

People from overseas, such as travellers and people with temporary visas, who get sick in Australia and are not eligible for Medicare often have health or travel insurance.

For people who do not have adequate insurance, the Tasmanian Government will waive the costs of treatment and testing for COVID-19 provided by Tasmanian Government services. This includes waiving costs for ambulance transfers for people suspected to have COVID-19 who are taken to Tasmanian public hospitals for assessment. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure costs of services does not stop people from overseas with symptoms of COVID-19 seeking early medical advice.

People not covered by Medicare who have cold or flu-like symptoms will be seen and tested (if needed) at no cost at a GP-led respiratory clinic.

People not covered by Medicare who see their local GP should discuss the cost of services with the provider.