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Situati​on update

As the number of COVID-19 cases in NSW decreases, it is important to increase testing to ensure any new cases or outbreaks are identified and managed rapidly. There is now laboratory capacity to approximately double the volume of testing for COVID-19 in NSW.

Except in special circumstances, people who have recovered from COVID-19 should not be tested prior to release from isolation.

With the exception of the high-risk settings detailed below, there is no requirement for testing before returning to work. Requests for such swabs should be declined.

Increasing testing for COVID-19 in NSW for those with symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever (≥37.5), cough, sore/scratchy throat and shortness of breath. 

Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting and loss of appetite. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.

NSW Health recommends that anyone with respiratory symptoms or unexplained fever should be tested for COVID-19.

This is especially important for:

  • anyone who lives or works in a high risk setting, including healthcare facilities, aged care and other residential facilities, schools, prisons, and other closed settings
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people who are close contacts of a confirmed case or who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • anyone admitted to hospital
  • people who reside in areas for increased testing and surveillance (Note: these areas are updated weekly).

Please make sure any health care, aged care or disability support workers or residents are noted on the laboratory request form so their test can be prioritised.

Asymptomatic people do not require testing, except in special circumstances, e.g. they are recovered cases wishing to return to work in a health care, aged care facility, or other high-risk setting, or the person is part of a public health unit outbreak investigation. For further advice, please see the COVID-19 control guideline for public health units or call the public health unit on 1300 066 055.

Testing for COVID-19

Testing for COVID-19 in primary and tertiary care settings requires the collection of nasal and throat swabs. See details of testing technique.

If taking samples yourself, use standard, contact and droplet transmission precautions when managing suspected cases and taking specimens: long sleeved gown, gloves, protective eyewear/face shield and a surgical mask.

Patients whose illness is severe enough to consider hospital admission should be referred directly to the emergency department.

There is no requirement to call the Public Health Unit before referring a patient for a test but they can provide additional advice or assistance if needed (1300 066 055).

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Please contact your Primary Health Network for access to masks.


Self-isolation at home for 14 days is required for:

From 29 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Australia from overseas are required to undertake their mandatory 14 day self-isolation at designated facilities (for example, a hotel).

Case and close contact definitions

Please refer to the most recent CDNA guidelines for current definitions of cases and close contacts.

​RACGP COVID-19 (Coronavirus) webinars​

The recording of the most recent RACGP NSW and ACT and NSW Health webinar is available at NSW COVID-19 update webinar - Monday 27 April 2020

For the most recent advice for health professionals please refer to Updated advice for health professionals

Further resources

Commonwealth Department of Health are providing regular updates to GPs.

There are a number of COVID-19 resources for health professionals on the NSW Health website (e.g. posters, factsheets, in-language information).​​​​​

Page Updated: Saturday 23 May 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW