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Hundreds Urged to Take HIV Tests After COVID-19 Quarantine Test Blunder

Officials in Australia say tests will be taken out of "an abundance of caution" following the error.

An error from health workers at Victoria hotel, Australia, means that hundreds of people that were in quarantine at the location for COVID-19 have now been asked to test for blood-borne diseases including HIV.

Authorities have revealed that blood glucose test devices were incorrectly re-used on at least 243 people at the hotel, which is being used as a quarantine facility for COVID-19.

RELATED: MIT COVID-19 TEST COULD BE MADE SO CHEAP THAT PEOPLE TEST THEMSELVES EVERY DAY

Blood glucose test blunder

The people who went through hotel quarantine in Victoria must be screened for HIV amid fears of cross-contamination from incorrect usage of blood glucose test devices.

As The Guardian reports, several blood glucose test devices were used on multiple people in quarantine between March 29 and August 20, meaning they will have to be screened for blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV.

The devices, which take a small sample of blood from a fingertip, are intended for use by only one person. Though the needle is changed between usages, microscopic traces of blood remaining on the device creates a low clinical risk of cross-contamination.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Safer Care Victoria, the state’s healthcare quality and safety agency, said that everyone at the hotel "who had conditions or episodes that may have required the test will also be contacted as a precaution."

'Acting out of an abundance of caution'

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, stated that the issue was a "clinical error that was made some time ago."

"Safer Care Victoria have made some announcements in relation to a clinical error that was made some time ago, very low risk, but you can’t take any risks with these things. You have to follow them up properly and that’s exactly what has happened," Andrews explained at a press conference on Tuesday.

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Health minister Martin Foley noted that there is currently no evidence of anyone being infected due to the error, which was identified and flagged by nurses at the Alfred hospital in August. 

Foley stressed that "this is, according to all the clinical advice, a very, very low risk of cross-contamination but, out of an abundance of caution, Safer Care Victoria and the Alfred are doing precisely the right thing."

As of yesterday, 141 people had been contacted and 71 had been tested for a possible cross-contamination and infection caused by the quarantine blunder.

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