Repatriated Australian returns “low positive” COVID-19 test

Dominic Giannini 22 February 2021
Dr Kerryn Coleman

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the person who returned a positive COVID-19 test is not infectious or a risk to the community. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

One of the 166 Australians who arrived on a repatriation flight from India a fortnight ago has returned a “very low positive” COVID-19 test, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman confirmed today (22 February).

The person is set to be released from 14 days of hotel quarantine along with the rest of the cohort at midnight tonight as ACT Health is confident it is an old infection, Dr Coleman said.

The person tested positive for the virus in December and tested negative before boarding the plane to Australia.

“There a number of other aspects of the testing process that have given us confidence,” Dr Coleman said.

“We know that this weak positive is only on a couple of the genetic locations [and] we do know that people who have been infected can still shed the virus intermittently, and that is what sometimes gives us a positive sewage result.”

Dr Coleman said further tests would be carried out today.

“If we have any doubts at all, they will not be released come tomorrow morning, but at this point in time, the person is not infectious and does not pose any risk to the Australian community at all.”

All repatriated Australians were tested before boarding the flight to Australia, as well as on the first day of the hotel quarantine and between day 10 and 12 of quarantine.

Dr Coleman confirmed the case on the same day as the first Canberran received their first COVID-19 vaccine injection.


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