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Tas seeks advice on rapid tests at border

Tas seeks advice on rapid tests at border
Photo: Tas seeks advice on rapid tests at border
Tasmania will announce whether interstate travellers can take rapid antigen COVID-19 tests at its border instead of a pre-travel PCR test.

The state recorded 35 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a slight drop on the 44 reported on Boxing Day.

Two-thirds of the new cases were acquired in another state, 20 per cent spread within close contacts and two cases are yet to be linked to a source.

One case is in hospital, however authorities say they were admitted for an alternative medical condition.

The spike in cases comes as new arrivals for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race continue to dock in the state capital.

Premier Peter Gutwein on Monday said the state government was seeking advice on whether rapid antigen tests could be used for interstate arrivals.

"We have a 72 hour pre-test requirement for a PCR test if you're looking to travel to Tasmania and, I want to be clear, that will remain in place for the time being," he told reporters in Hobart.
"But we are considering other options such as where the rapid antigen testing can be used as a safeguard.

"I'll speak later in the week about what the requirements will be in terms of our borders, as we approach the New Year."

The move aims to take pressure off testing sites in other parts of the country, as demand continues to impact queue lengths and turnaround times in the eastern states.

South Australia is now asking interstate visitors to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival.

He said authorities are also examining whether rapid testing could be implemented in hospitals, aged care and disability settings.

Meanwhile, all close contacts connected to a COVID-positive Royal Hobart Hospital staffer have so far returned negative results.

Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said 64 staff and 18 patients had been tested for COVID-19 since the staffer was diagnosed on Friday.

"No other staff or patients have returned positive tests, but the hospital continues to manage potential transmission," he said.

Public Health Director Mark Veitch flagged there could soon be a change to the way Tasmanian authorities manage casual contacts.

He said once case numbers move into the hundreds to thousands per day there would be "less focus" on casual contacts and contact sites would not be listed as routinely.

Meanwhile, the state opposition is calling for delays in listing COVID-19 exposure sites to be fixed.

Acting Labor leader Anita Dow said there was a lag of up to a week between COVID-19 exposure and when the government was publishing site lists.

"In the northwest just yesterday three new sites at Turners Beach, Stanley and Smithton were identified as close contact sites but that came nearly a week after exposure to COVID," she said.

"Tasmanians need more urgency, they need information to be distributed very quickly."

Tasmania has recorded 194 COVID-19 cases since reopening its borders to states and territories on December 15.

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