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Revoked - Point of Care Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19 for Queensland Public Hospitals Direction

This Direction was revoked on 27 April 2022, and is no longer in effect.

Summary

Effective from: 7:30pm AEST 23 December 2021 to 27 April 2022

Posted: 23 December 2021

Revoked on: 27 April 2022

Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency

Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)

Section 362B

On 29 January 2020, under the Public Health Act 2005, the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services made an order declaring a public health emergency in relation to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The public health emergency area specified in the order is for ‘all of Queensland’. Its duration has been extended by regulation to 26 March 2022 and may be further extended.

Further to this declaration, l, Dr John Gerrard, Chief Health Officer, reasonably believe it is necessary to give the following direction pursuant to the powers under s 362B of the Public Health Act 2005 to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Guidance

  1. Rapid Antigen Tests are an important tool to enable Queensland Public Hospitals to manage the COVID-19 response.

  2. RT-PCR remains the preferred test for COVID-19 diagnosis but need not be used in the first instance where Rapid Antigen Tests can be used by an authorised tester for screening purposes permitted under this Direction.

  3. An approved setting using Rapid Antigen Tests must have a process in place to facilitate timely diagnostic testing by RT-PCR following any positive rapid antigen tests. As a guide and recognising that Rapid Antigen Tests may be used in remote locations, the process should ensure results of confirmatory diagnostic RT-PCR tests are available within 48 hours, where practicable.

  4. Use of Rapid Antigen Tests for individual diagnosis must only occur under the supervision of a doctor or other suitably qualified health professional in situations set out in this public health direction.

Citation

  1. This Public Health Direction may be referred to as the Point of Care Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19 for Queensland Public Hospitals Direction.

Commencement

  1. This Direction applies from publication until the end of the declared public health emergency, unless it is revoked or replaced.

PART 1 – USE OF RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS FOR QUEENSLAND PUBLIC HOSPITALS

  1. A person may only use a Rapid Antigen Test for the detection of COVID-19 in an approved setting and if they are an authorised tester.

    Example: an operator of a hospital may direct that Rapid Antigen Testing is used in an Emergency Department to manage patient flow.

  2. Despite paragraph 7, an authorised tester must not use a Rapid Antigen Test for the detection of COVID-19 on a person:

    1. who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19; or

    2. who is known, in the last 14 days, to have had contact with a diagnosed person;

      unless permitted by an emergency officer (medical) or operator of a hospital or their delegate.

      Example: An operator of a hospital may permit Rapid Antigen Testing to be used for diagnostic testing where there are significant delays in RT-PCR testing turnaround times or there are other barriers to obtaining diagnostic test results such as the remoteness of the location.

      Note: Confirmatory RT-PCR testing should be conducted if a person returns a positive result.

PART 2 – RAPID ANTIGEN TEST RESULTS

  1. If a tested person returns a positive result from a Rapid Antigen Test, an authorised tester must immediately:

    1. notify the positive result by phone and email to the nearest local public health unit; and

    2. collect a new sample for an RT-PCR test or if an RT-PCR test cannot be undertaken, advise the tested person to wait for further instructions from an emergency officer (public health) about obtaining an RT-PCR test; and

    3. inform the tested person of the Rapid Antigen Test result and advise them that they should immediately isolate; and

    4. where paragraph 9 (c) applies,

      1. inform the tested person that a diagnostic test is being undertaken,

      2. advise when the diagnostic test result is expected to be available, and

      3. manage the person as a COVID-19 infection case until the diagnostic test result is received.

  2. A tested person who returns a positive result from a Rapid Antigen Test must immediately isolate in accordance with the Isolation for Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 Direction once advised under paragraph 9(c).

  3. If a tested person returns an indeterminate or invalid result from a Rapid Antigen Test, an authorised tester must immediately:

    1. repeat the Rapid Antigen Test with the tested person; or

      Note: a Rapid Antigen Test may only be repeated once if an indeterminate or invalid result has been returned.

    2. collect a new sample for an RT-PCR test; or

    3. advise the tested person to obtain an RT-PCR test.

      Note: an individual who is tested for COVID-19 with an RT-PCR test must isolate until a negative test result is received.

PART 3 – RECORD-KEEPING

  1. An approved setting using Rapid Antigen Tests must ensure that any progress includes the following:

    1. keep records about each Rapid Antigen Test undertaken, including the:

      1. full name of the authorised tester; and

      2. date, time and lot number of the test; and

      3. name of the test kit; and

      4. results of the test; and

      5. full name, date of birth, address and phone number of each tested person; and

    2. store the records mentioned in paragraph 12(a) securely; and

    3. not use the records mentioned in paragraph 12(a) for any other purpose; and

    4. provide the records mentioned in paragraph 12(a) to Queensland Health or an emergency officer (public health) on request.

  2. An authorised tester must comply with any process developed for an approved setting regarding the use of Rapid Antigen Testing, including keeping records in accordance with paragraph 12.

PART 4 — PENALTIES

A person to whom the direction applies commits an offence if the person fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the direction.

Section 362D of the Public Health Act 2005 provides:

Failure to comply with public health directions

  • A person to whom a public health direction applies must comply with the direction unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
  • Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.

Dr John Gerrard
Chief Health Officer

23 December 2021

Published on the Queensland Health website at 7:30 pm

SCHEDULE 1 – DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this Public Health Direction:

Approved setting means:

  1. when determined necessary by the operator of a hospital; or

    Example: an operator of a hospital may determine that as part of their approach to managing COVID-19 that Rapid Antigen Tests should be used in the Emergency Department or another area or facility forming part of the Hospital and Health Service.

  2. a setting or type of setting approved by the Chief Health Officer and identified on the Queensland Health website.

Authorised tester means a person employed or engaged:

  1. as a doctor;

  2. as a health practitioner and who is under the supervision of a doctor when using the Rapid Antigen Test;

  3. in the provision of pathology services for Pathology Queensland;

  4. in the provision of public sector health services for the Department of Health or a Hospital or Health Service; or

  5. in the provision of pathology services as a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited medical pathology service with scope of accreditation in microbiology.

Cleared case of COVID-19 means a person who was clinically diagnosed with COVID-19 and has been given a letter or other written evidence from a doctor or health authority of the jurisdiction where they were diagnosed that they are cleared of COVID-19.

Diagnosed person means a person who has been clinically diagnosed with COVID-19, and the person is not a cleared case of COVID-19.

Diagnostic test means an RT-PCR test used to clinically diagnose whether a person has COVID-19, after a Rapid Antigen Test undertaken in an approved setting under this Direction.

Doctor means medical practitioner registered in Australia under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

Emergency officer (medical) means a doctor appointed under Chapter 8 of the Public Health Act 2005 as an emergency officer (medical);

Emergency officer (public health) means an emergency officer appointed under Chapter 8 of the Public Health Act 2005 as either an emergency officer (general) or an emergency officer (medical);

Note: emergency officers appointed under the Public Health Act 2005 includes doctors, public health officers, police, Transport Inspectors, Senior Network Officers, and fire and emergency services personnel.

Health practitioner means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practice a health profession, other than a student.

Hospital means a hospital, as defined in schedule 2 to the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011.

Isolate means:

  1. the person is to travel directly by private vehicle to their home or other premises that are suitable to reside in and remain until a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result is received and they are symptom-free; or

  2. travel directly to, or remain at, a hospital for medical treatment, and following treatment and discharge from the hospital, travel directly to their home or other premises that are suitable to reside in and remain until a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result is received and they are symptom-free; and

  3. must not leave their home or other premises except to:

    1. obtain a COVID-19 PCR test if permitted under a direction given to the person by an emergency officer (public health); or

    2. avoid immediate injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm; or

      Example — escaping a risk of harm related to sexual or domestic and family violence.

    3. in the event of an emergency situation; or

      Example — a person leaving quarantine to go to a hospital for emergency medical treatment or due to an emergency at the premises such as fire or flood.

    4. as otherwise permitted or required under a direction given to the person by an emergency officer (public health); and

  4. must wear a face mask whenever directed to do so by an emergency officer (public health) and when leaving isolation as permitted by paragraph (c),unless it is not practicable because of the emergency situation or the need to avoid immediate injury or risk of harm; and

  5. must not permit any other person to enter their home or other premises unless that other person:

    1. usually resides at the premises or is residing at the premises for the purpose of quarantine or isolation at home; or

    2. is required to enter the premises in an emergency; or

    3. as otherwise required or permitted under a direction given to the person by an emergency officer (public health).

Operator of a hospital means a person who owns, controls or operates the hospital.

Example: the Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer or Executive Director of a hospital.

Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) means a test intended for use at the point-of-care to detect the presence of viral protein from SARS-CoV-2 and not based on nucleic acid detection methods such as polymerase chain reaction, and approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). For the purposes of this public health direction, RAT does not include test kits that may be used for self-testing by a person.

RT-PCR test means an oropharyngeal and deep nasal swab reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test, approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Symptoms consistent with COVID-19 means fever or history of fever, symptoms of acute respiratory infection (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat), loss of smell, loss of taste, headache, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue.

Last updated: 27 April 2022