‘Considerable risk’: Coronavirus testing plan blasted
Queenslanders will be given COVID-19 tests in five pharmacies across the state under a trial the State Government will press ahead with despite dire warnings from medical groups.
Queensland Health has confirmed the trial will begin in coming months.
Under the trial, people presenting with COVID-19 symptoms will be offered a test on the spot, in an attempt to catch those currently not presenting at official testing sites.
Under the trial, people won't be able to directly request a COVID-19 test, and participating pharmacies will have to have proper training, a safe place to carry out the test and wear personal protective equipment.
The pharmacies will not be advertised so as not to draw people there who want a COVID-19 test.
But they are in the Townsville, Cairns, West Moreton and Metro North health regions.
AMA Queensland president Professor Chris Perry said the plan would put pharmacy employees, customers and the general public at considerable risk.
"We don't want people who believe they may have COVID-19 wandering through shopping centres or into a pharmacy to be tested," Prof Perry said.
"This creates unrealistic contact tracing measures and negative business impacts for pharmacies and co-located shops if a positive case is recorded."
Prof Perry said pharmacies were visited by some of the more vulnerable people in the community, and exposure to COVID-19 would put them at greater risk of not only contracting the virus, but death.
"This proposed trial raises a lot of questions about infection control and contact tracing which are yet to be answered," he said.
"Customers have a right to know if their pharmacy is involved in the testing trial.
"Customers armed with this knowledge would certainly then begin to avoid those pharmacies."
A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the department was working with representatives from pharmacy organisations, academia, indemnity insurers, public health and infection control, pathology, consumers and employee unions on shaping the trial.
"We are committed to securing the safety of pharmacists, pharmacy staff and the community while ensuring the need for increased surveillance of COVID-19 is met," she said.
The Professional Pharmacists of Australia has previously said it would blockade pharmacies carrying out the testing under the "half-baked" and "crazy" plan, but the Pharmacy Guild supports it.
Originally published as 'Considerable risk': Coronavirus testing plan blasted