COVID-19 testing and case definition

COVID-19 testing and case definition

Test all cases that meet the case definition for COVID-19 and advise any suspected cases to isolate until results can be provided. Only if clinical deterioration occurs, should patients call 000 or attend an emergency department.

For a full suite of COVID-19 clinical resources - including assessment and management, referrals and referral advice - visit Murray HealthPathways. Note you must be registered and logged in to view. Health professionals in our region can request free access here.

Patient assessment advice for clinicians

If you have a patient who meets the testing criteria, you need to:

  • Separate from other patients.
  • Place single-use surgical mask on the patient.
  • Use droplet and contact precautions (gown, gloves, eye protection and single-use face mask) when assessing the patient.
  • Conduct a medical assessment, and focus on:
    - History of contact with sick people or confirmed COVID-19 cases
    - Travel history, occupation and/or residence in high risk settings
    - The date of onset of illness and especially whether there are symptoms or signs of pneumonia. If the patient has symptoms and signs suggestive of pneumonia, viral load might be higher. These patients should be tested and treated in hospital. If clinically required, ambulance transport should be used - advise 000 operator of suspected COVID-19.

Testing resources:

Victorian testing criteria (as of 9 April 2021)

  • Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation* OR
  • Acute respiratory infection (including cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose).** OR
  • Loss of smell or loss of taste

*Clinical discretion applies; consider potential for co-infection (e.g. SARS-CoV-2 and influenza).

** Older people may present with other atypical symptoms including functional decline, delirium, exacerbation of underlying chronic condition, falls, loss of appetite, malaise, nausea, diarrhoea and myalgia.

Other clinical symptoms
People in the following groups should be tested if they have new onset of other clinical symptoms associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) (including headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea):

  • people who are most at risk of severe illness
  • higher prevalence groups and settings
  • settings with a high risk of transmission.

Clinical judgement and reasoning should be used, including consideration of epidemiological risk factors for acquisition and transmission.

Case definitions

A confirmed case requires laboratory definitive evidence.

Laboratory definitive evidence

  • Detection of SARS-CoV-2 by nucleic acid testing(1) OR
  • isolation of SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture, with confirmation using a nucleic acid test OR
  • SARS-CoV-2 IgG seroconversion or a four-fold or greater increase in SARS-CoV-2 antibodies of any immunoglobulin subclass including ‘total’ assays in acute and convalescent sera, in the absence of vaccination.2

Historical case

  • A historical case requires laboratory suggestive evidence supported by either previous (prior to the past 14 days) clinical evidence OR
  • previous (prior to the past 14 days) epidemiological evidence.

A historical case should not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (or not have had symptoms of COVID-19 for the past 14 days).

GPs in Bendigo and Loddon Mallee who have a patient who tests positive can contact the Public Health Unit Bendigo and Loddon Mallee 1800 959 400 to initiate contact tracing.

For full details on the assessment and testing criteria for COVID-19 click here.

Notify COVID-19 cases online
Medical practitioners can now notify the department of a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 online or by phone. The online form is available on the DHHS website and the Health.vic website. If phone notifications are preferred, practitioners can call the 1300 651 160 hotline.