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Hundreds of Victoria hotel quarantine guests must be screened for HIV over blood testing contamination fears

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More than 200 people who went through hotel quarantine in Victoria, Australia, must be screened for HIV amid fears of cross-contamination from incorrect usage of blood glucose test devices.

Several such devices were used on multiple people in quarantine between 29 March and 20 August, necessitating screenings for blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV.

These monitors, which take a small sample of blood from a fingertip, are intended for repeated use by only one person. While the needle is changed between usages, microscopic traces of blood can remain within the body of the machine, creating a low clinical risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Safer Care Victoria, the state’s healthcare quality and safety agency, has assured the public there is no risk of COVID-19 spread as the disease is not transmitted by blood.

These devices have since been taken out of circulation.

In a statement, a spokesman for the agency said they have identified 243 people who had been tested by one of the shared machines during the timeframe in question, and will be contacted for screening. Everyone “who had conditions or episodes that may have required the test will also be contacted as a precaution”.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, labelled the incident 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,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

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Source: The Guardian, 20 October 2020

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