Foodbank Outbreak Prevented

A potential Covid outbreak at Foodbank Victoria’s main distribution warehouse in Yarraville was averted last week after a staff member tested positive to a rapid antigen testing (RAT). 

Foodbank is currently participating in a trial of at-home testing where staff test before coming to work and then send an image of the result along with a QR code to OnSite Doctor, the medical services company conducting the trial.

The positive result came on the first official day of the trial which ensured the staff member did not attend work and other close contacts were isolated and told to have a PCR test – which is the gold standard.

Foodbank CEO Dave McNamara said the organisation was grateful that OnSite Doctor was available to help the organisation work through the complexities of containing the incident.

“Rapid Antigen Testing really proved its worth as we were able to react immediately, whereas it was only several days later that we got the PCR test result for the employee that tested RAT positive on Monday”, he said.

He said the early warning provided by the Roche rapid antigen test was crucial to protecting other staff members who have since all tested negative.

Director of OnSite Doctor, Dr Nathan Pinskier said the company was conducting the trial at Foodbank as part of an evaluation of employees self-testing at home prior to coming to work.

“Given at home rapid antigen testing will be permitted from next week we wanted to discover if companies could have staff test at home and have the results independently confirmed and have a greater level of assurance around the result.

“What we discovered almost immediately is how important it is for organisations to have expert support when introducing RAT.

“After the positive we were able to pivot and adjust the trial protocols to increase the testing, advise on which staff were close contacts and needed to get a PCR test, and when it was taking too long to get the PCR test result for the first RAT positive, we contacted the lab to accelerate its processing,” Dr Pinskier said.

“The difficulty for companies is that if companies have a RAT positive result it is likely to be days before they receive any guidance from a local health unit which realistically is too late,” he said.

Mr McNamara said it was reassuring to the staff and the organisation to have the backing of a Covid-focused medical services company in dealing with what could have been a more serious incident.

“We’re almost fully vaccinated, but even then, there will still be the risk of breakthrough infections. Regular surveillance testing may be required until this Covid-19 crisis recedes,” Mr McNamara said.

Further information on Rapid Antigen Testing please contact OnSite doctor:  Tom Skotnicki on 0419 581 874 

Foodbank Victoria, please contact Matt Tilley on 0434 951 838