Hundreds wrongly told their Covid test was negative in Australia lab error

28 December 2021, 10:52 | Updated: 28 December 2021, 11:00

A drive through testing clinic in Sydney, Australia
A drive through testing clinic in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A major laboratory in Australia told hundreds of people they did not have Covid when they had actually tested positive.

The lab, in Sydney, New South Wales, said 886 people had been affected by the error over Christmas.

The state is seeing a huge surge in coronavirus cases driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

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There are concerns the error could lead to a further spike in cases due to household mixing over the festive period.

The SydPath lab, based at St Vincent's Hospital in the east of the city, said people who have been affected are being contacted.

A spokesperson for the hospital said: "We have identified what occurred and can confirm it was related to a specific human error. SydPath have put procedures in place to ensure this cannot happen again.

"This event comes at a time of unprecedented Covid-testing activity and SydPath's people, as with all pathology teams throughout NSW, are working around the clock to respond."

New South Wales reported 6,062 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, down from 6,324 a day earlier.

Meanwhile Australia's Victoria and Queensland states have reported record levels of new daily infections as pressure on testing centres prompts calls for wider use of rapid antigen tests.

Queensland state reported 1,158 cases, the first time the state has seen more than 1,000 cases in a day, but hospitalisations remained low.

The state has more than 4,000 active cases of which 257 are reported to be the omicron variant.

Victoria state reported 2,738 new cases on Tuesday, beating the previous state record of 2,297 cases in mid-October.