A monumental Covid bungle on Christmas Day has put hundreds of families at risk of infection after a major Sydney hospital incorrectly sent out text messages telling positive cases they didn’t have the virus.
An Easter suburbs musician was one of more than 400 people who received a text message from the Sydney Pathology testing centre at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, giving the all clear for Christmas.
But the following morning, after attending a big Christmas dinner that he rearranged after getting the good news, he received another message informing him of the ‘laboratory error’ – and that he was in fact positive.
He is now furious that he could have spread the highly-transmissible Omicron variant to his partner and closest friends because of someone else’s stuff up.
Hundreds of other families are likely to be in the same position, with the false negative test result coming through on Christmas Day – just in time to rearrange lunch plans.
A man who was told he was negative and then attending a Christmas dinner is considering taking legal action
An Easter suburbs musician was one of more than 400 people who received a text message giving the all clear for Christmas (left) before receiving another message the following day informing they were actually positive (right)
His ordeal began on Wednesday, December 22, when he woke up and felt a little off with tiredness and a fever.
While the Eastern Suburbs man was waiting for his official PCR test result, he ‘did a bunch of rapid tests at home’ and 75 per cent of them turned out positive.
‘I assumed the worst and self-isolated,’ the bass player wrote on Facebook.
‘But yesterday, on Christmas, after three days of isolation I received my PCR result: NEGATIVE (yay!)’
‘At this point my symptoms were gone so we arranged a last-minute Xmas dinner with some friends. Everything was back to normal.’
Pictured: A man has a swab taken at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney on December 21 as the city experiences an unprecedented demand
Members of the public queue for Covid tests at a clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Sunday – with many experiencing four day waits for results
But after getting out of bed on Sunday, going for a walk and doing some grocery shopping he received the text telling him he was indeed ‘positive’.
‘This means I could have infected my partner, our friends and any casual contact due to negligence from the lab,’ he said.
‘I am planning on taking legal action for this, it is unacceptable to play with people’s lives like this.
‘I would rather prefer to wait a week for the right result rather than getting a ‘quick’ (+72 hrs later) result done in a rush.’
The Sydney Pathology testing centre at St Vincent’s Hospital (pictured) text messaged 400 people on Christmas Day informing them they had negative test results when they were actually positive
SydPath has since apologised for the error saying as soon we became aware of the issue on Boxing Day morning, the lab immediately commenced a process to contact impacted people.
The clinic is now urgently contacting those who were wrongfully diagnosed as negative, who may have potentially spread the virus at family events on Christmas.
‘An emergency response team is now investigating the cause of this mistake, which is believed to be human error,’ SydPath said.
‘We sincerely apologise to all those impacted.’
St Vincent’s and SydPath also run the drive-through clinic at Bondi Beach, which had queues for up to three hours in the days leading to Christmas.
The state hit another record number of cases on Sunday with 6,394 new infections despite tests falling from 149,000 to 109,000 on Christmas Day. It’s unclear whether the 400 positive cases were included in Sunday’s tally.
Testing sites across New South Wales have seen huge queues as more people are forced to isolate over the festive period (pictured, testing at Bondi Beach on Christmas Eve)
Hospitalisations are at 458, up from 388 on Saturday, but the number of patients in ICU remains steady at 52.
‘Bottom line here is that we’re all going to get Omicron,’ Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at a press conference on Boxing Day.
‘The challenge for us in the state is to make sure that our health system can cope with that on coming virus… [And] the best way to face it is when we have full vaccination including our booster.’
Premier Dominic Perrottet echoed this sentiment, also saying ‘we’re all going to get Omicron’, and asked residents for help in reducing the strain on testing clinics.
He said to only get a PCR test for Covid if they are symptomatic and to otherwise opt for a home rapid antigen test.
NSW Premier and Health Minister Brad Hazzard fronted a press conference in Sydney on Sunday (pictured) as they encouraged residents to take up Covid vaccine booster shots
Mr Perrottet urged Australians to refrain from getting a PCR test unless advised by officials, were symptomatic, or travelling.
‘If you do not feel unwell, if you are not required to be tested and have not been directed so by NSW Health, or you are not travelling interstate and that is a requirement, there is no need to be tested,’ he said.
‘We can’t have are people sitting in testing queues which takes away from people who are unwell and who need that test because we want to get those tests back as quickly as possible.’
Mr Hazzard said the state’s pathology system is struggling as hundreds of thousands of residents have flocked to clinics for tests before travelling interstate.