Regional Victoria’s roadmap to recovery on track after Echuca case confirmed as false positive

By Anna McGuinness

REGIONAL Victoria’s roadmap to recovery remains on track after an Echuca man who tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday was confirmed as a false positive test.

Premier Daniel Andrews addressed the case in a press conference on Saturday morning.

“We’re very pleased it was a false positive and that means regional Victoria remains on track to take not one, but two steps by the middle of (this) week,” he said.

Health officials leapt into action last week after the positive case was reported, with a rapid response testing team called in to Echuca Regional Health, extra testing organised for this week in Moama and a specialist committee put together to investigate the source of the case.

The mystery case had caused concern as it may have slowed regional Victoria from moving to step three on the government's roadmap to recovery.

To move to the third step in regional Victoria, there must be no cases with an unknown source for 14 consecutive days and the daily average number of cases must be less than five.

The Echuca man in his 60s was re-tested on Friday, following negative results from his family members, and returned a negative result himself later that day.

The Public Health Unit Bendigo said the false positive was due to a rare laboratory error.

Close contacts of the person have all tested negative to COVID-19 and the person and those connected have all been cleared to return to the community.

Echuca Regional Health chief executive Nick Bush said he was really pleased it was a false positive test.

“It's disappointing for the family that they've gone through the last day and a bit thinking their husband and father is positive for COVID-19,” Mr Bush said.

“The end result is that he's not positive and that's good news.”

Mr Bush said the man's initial sample came back negative when re-tested at a different laboratory, and an additional test taken on Friday was also negative.

All positive COVID-19 samples are re-tested for verification.

Echuca Regional Health operates a COVID-19 Screening Clinic at its hospital, seven days a week, from 9.30am to 6pm,with access via the Emergency Department on Service Street.

Anyone with even the mildest of symptoms or concerns is encouraged to get tested.

Common symptoms include fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath or a sore throat, runny nose and loss of sense of smell or taste.

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