What should I do if I test positive for Covid-19?

9th January 2022, Dr Chee L Khoo

Whenever you have protocols that are updated on a daily basis, it could mean that either there are really, really lots of scientific data coming through or those protocols are not based on scientific data. With the omicron wave, the constantly changing updates cannot be based on scientific data. I have been trying to provide an update on who needs isolation and for how long for weeks now but they keep changing the recommendations and protocols. Announcements from NSW Health, Federal Health, the Prime Minister and the RACGP are not in tandem. As GPs we are left to sort out the mess ourselves.

You tested positive for Covid-19

With PCR testing still difficult to accessed because of shortage of chemicals and shortage of staff to man these clinics, rapid antigen tests (RAT) can now be used instead of PCR. RAT results do not need to be confirmed by PCR. In general, a positive RAT has reasonable accuracy as the false positive rate is low especially, if you have symptoms. However, if you undertake a RAT because of various non-medical requirements (e.g. for travel, for admission to hospital, to gain entry to an aged care facility or as part of work requirements) and you have “not been anywhere” or met anyone who has tested positive recently, you would be wise to repeat the RAT after 24 hours. If it is negative and you don’t have symptoms, the first positive RAT was probably a false positive.

The isolation protocol for someone who has tested positive is:

Essentially, if you test positive for Covid-19, you need to isolate for 7 days. If you do not have symptoms by day 7, you are free from isolation (de-isolation). You do not need confirmatory test (PCR or RAT) to de-isolate but only if you don’t have symptoms. You do not need a clearance letter.

After the 7 days of strict isolation, please avoid high risk settings (e.g. aged care facilities, hospital, medical practices, homes where there are susceptible people) for another 7 days. It is also sensible to keep your masks on when you go out during that time.

If you have symptoms on day 6, you need to do a swab (PCR or RAT). If you test negative, you can de-isolate even if you still have symptoms.

If you test positive on day 6, you need to continue to be isolated till your next test on day 12 is negative unless your symptoms are gone before that. In other words, you can be released after day 6 if your symptoms are gone or your swab is now negative.

Who should I inform?

The tracking system is really snowed under. While they are supposed to be handling the tracking of your contacts and triaging you into whether you can safely isolate and be managed at home, I wouldn’t count on it. Please informed your closed contacts about your positive results. They need to follow the protocol for close contacts.

Should I call my GP?

Well, please don’t do what the PM told all of you to do – call your GP if you test positive on RAT. No, please only call your GP if you have any health concerns – increasingly more unwell, chest pains, shortness of breath, ongoing fever beyond the first few days. There is no need to ring your GP if you are well with Covid-19. You may have any number of serious medical conditions that you may be worried about if you test positive. Sure, get in touch with your GP.

Victorians can upload their RAT results online but we are waiting for NSW to get to that point.

If you have not have your booster dose, please ring us to arrange for one very soon. You should have your booster shot anytime after 4 months from your second short. We have adequate supplies of Pfizer Comirnaty vaccines when we reopen on Monday 10th January 2022. We will have enough vaccines for the 5-11 year olds from Monday 17th January.