Sydney (Tribune International, Health & Medical Research, 3 May 2020): High risk patients will now receive their COVID-19 test results within the hour, down from 24 – 48 hours, as the NSW Government deploys new rapid testing kits statewide.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits have been in use in priority regional areas where clusters of concern were identified and will now be rolled out to 29 additional labs.

“The faster we can isolate higher risk patients and quarantine their contacts, the less likely they can unknowingly spread it to others,” Mr Hazzard said.

“On average, test results are being processed in less than 48 hours from the far corners of this vast state which is an achievement in itself, given the issues with flights and logistics.

“Now we will have even more vital hours up our sleeve, which will allow us to speed up our contract tracing efforts to map and isolate known contacts of cases.”

NSW has among the highest testing rates in Australia and the world. Mass testing is critical to identifying cases and implementing measures to slow COVID-19.

The new, rapid PCR testing kits are presently in use in NSW Health Pathology laboratories in Broken Hill, Wagga Wagga, Orange, Coffs Harbour and Tamworth and 29 more labs across the State will commence rapid testing from next week.

NSW Health Pathology has thoroughly tested and evaluated the TGA-approved COVID-19 testing kit from the US and has secured a regular supply to meet demand.

Mr Hazzard said the technology used for the rapid COVID-19 testing kit is already in use for the testing of influenza and other respiratory viruses by NSW Health Pathology.

“These kits are in high demand globally but NSW Health Pathology is working with clinicians to ensure our most high risk patients reap the benefits,” Mr Hazzard said.

NSW Health Pathology can perform more than 8,000 tests per day within its specialist laboratories, which continues to exceed current demand.

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