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SA to introduce rapid COVID-19 tests

South Australia will roll-out fast COVID-19 testing technology, with the ability to provide a result within an hour.

The new test adopts equipment originally designed for diagnosing influenza but has been adapted by a US company to test for the coronavirus.

South Australia has invested $600,000 to buy 10 of the new machines and expects to be able to test up to 300 people each week.

SA Pathology boss Tom Dodd said the technology was highly reliable and would be particularly important in improving the management of patients in hospital.

It could also help speed up providing results to people tested at country locations.

“What’s so exciting about it is that it allows for a test to be performed in 45 minutes,” he said.

“It’s doesn’t replace our current broad screening technology but it will be critically important in assisting with the flow of patients through emergency departments.”

Traditional COVID-19 testing takes about 16 hours to provide a result.

The extra testing comes as SA recorded one new virus case on Friday taking the state’s total to 435.

Seven people remain in hospital, including two in intensive care with one of those, a 68-year-old man, listed as critical.

So far 331 people have recovered from their infections or about 76 per cent.

SA has also moved to return suspect face masks to service in local hospitals after assurances from the federal government they can be used by frontline health staff treating coronavirus patients.

SA Health withdrew more than 600,000 of the N95 masks this week amid concerns over their performance when splashed with liquids.

But the agency said the commonwealth has now clarified that the masks were safe to use.

“Our first priority, as always, is the protection of our staff and we’ll take whatever measures we feel are necessary to ensure their safety,” SA Health said in a statement on Friday.

“The commonwealth has clarified overnight that the masks are compliant with all relevant Australian and international standards.

SA Health said it would discuss how to return the masks to hospitals, but chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said staff working with virus patients would also be advised to wear a face shield as added protection.

The masks were first distributed on Saturday, but were pulled after concerns were raised by staff and after an independent assessment was conducted.

Originally published as SA to introduce rapid COVID-19 tests

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