Tasmania is seeking advice on whether rapid antigen COVID-19 tests can be used at its border for interstate travellers, instead of PCR tests.
The state recorded 35 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, a slight drop on the 44 reported on Boxing Day.
About two-thirds of Tasmania’s new cases were acquired in another state, 20 per cent spread within families and close contacts and two cases do not have a specific source yet.
The new infections take the number of active cases in the state to 194, with 116 patients managing their care at home, the health department says.
One case is in hospital, however authorities say they were admitted for an alternative medical condition.
The spike in cases comes as new arrivals for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race continue to dock in the state capital.
Premier Peter Gutwein said the Tasmanian government is seeking advice on whether rapid antigen tests can be used for interstate arrivals.
“We have a 72 hour pre-test requirement for PCR test if you’re looking to travel to Tasmania and, I want to be clear, that will remain in place for the time being,” he told reporters in Hobart on Monday.
“But we are considering other options such as where the rapid antigen testing can be used as a safeguard.
“We’ll have more to say on this, I’ll speak later in the week about what the requirements will be in terms of our borders, as we approach the New Year.”
The move aims to take pressure off testing sites in other parts of the country, as demand continues to impact queue lengths and turnaround times in the eastern states.
South Australia is now asking interstate visitors to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival.
He said authorities are also examining whether rapid testing could be implemented in hospitals, aged care and disability settings.
Meanwhile, all close contacts connected to a COVID-positive Royal Hobart Hospital staffer have so far returned negative results.
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said 64 staff and 18 patients had been tested for COVID-19 since the staffer was diagnosed on Friday.
“No other staff or patients have returned positive tests, but the hospital continues to manage potential transmission,” he said.
Public Health Director Mark Veitch flagged there could soon be a change to the way Tasmanian authorities manage casual contacts.
He said once case numbers move into the hundreds to thousands per day, there would be “less focus” on casual contacts and casual contact sites would not be listed as routinely.
Tasmania opened its borders to states and territories considered of risk on December 15, when the island state had zero COVID cases.