Australian Covid-19 lab mistakenly sent negative results to 400 people who actually tested positive

The seven-day average for Covid-19 tests in New South Wales increased to about 145,000 swabs a day.

Faris Alfiq | December 27, 2021, 06:47 PM

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A medical laboratory in Sydney, Australia, had mistakenly sent negative Covid-19 test results to 400 individuals on Christmas day, Sky News reported.

They were actually tested positive for Covid-19.

Mistake might be caused by "human error"

In a statement on Dec. 26, St. Vincent's Hospital said that its pathology service, SydPath, had sent out the wrong test results, ABC News reported.

Individuals affected by the error were contacted as soon as the error was discovered on Dec. 26.

The statement added that the affected results were from tests carried out on Dec. 22 and 23.

According to ABC News, the laboratory's medical director, Anthony Dodds, attributed the accident to the "large volume of tests" they were conducting before the holidays. 

He said that the cause of the mistake was possibly due to "human error".

The laboratory's emergency response team is investigating the incident, he added.

"We sincerely apologise to all those impacted," the statement added. 

Surge of Covid-19 tests

New South Wales is struggling to cope with the high demand for Covid-19 testing.

ABC News reported that many people had been turned away at testing clinics.

The seven-day average for Covid-19 tests increased to about 145,000 swabs a day, from about 117,000 in the week before.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that while the large number of tests "sounds good", they need to consider "why are people being tested and why are [they] putting the stressors on [their] pathology system.

He branded unnecessary swabs that are stressing the pathology services as "tourism testing" -- PCR tests are required for interstate travel across Australia.

These tests put more strain on the testing regime which was "getting in the way of looking after actual patients," Hazzard added.

First Omicron-linked death in Australia

Australia is experiencing a surge of Covid-19 infections due to the Omicron variant in the past week, with 9,107 new cases reported on Dec. 27 in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

On Dec. 27, Australia also recorded its first Omicron-linked death.

The country's health ministry said that a man in his 80s had contracted Covid-19 from an aged care facility in North Parramatta, Sydney, where he was a resident.

He had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine but had underlying health conditions.

He passed away in Westmead Hospital in Sydney.

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