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COVID update - 1 January 2023

Please note that from 1 January 2023, all COVID-PCR testing (other than travel testing) will require a doctor's referral. The doctor's referral must include a Medicare number for it to be bulk billed. Any testing performed without a doctor's referral or a valid Medicare number will incur an out-of-pocket fee.

COVID travel tests
COVID PCR tests for TRAVEL, must still be booked through our online booking portal, and payment made as usual. We cannot accept a doctor's referral for a COVID travel test. For travel tests, please visit our travel page to book.

COVID PCR/respiratory virus PCR testing

June 2022
There has been a sharp increase in cases of respiratory viruses, including COVID, Influenza A, RSV and others which are not possible to distinguish clinically. Consequently, where testing is indicated for management of symptomatic patients, it is important to request a respiratory viral PCR in addition to COVID PCR. Both COVID and respiratory virus PCR can be tested from the one swab, no additional swab is required. A throat and nose swab (both nostrils) must still be performed on the one swab.

Click the link below to view the latest update on COVID PCR and respiratory virus PCR testing.

 COVID-19 dedicated collection sites

All COVID-19 PCR and respiratory virus PCR testing (except travel testing) requires a doctor's referral.

Please note, some of our dedicated collection sites require the patient to book an appointment PRIOR to attending (see booking instructions below).

Melbourne Pathology's dedicated COVID-19 collection sites (listed below) accept COVID-19 testing for the following:

  • Pre-paid International travel testing (travel referral required)
  • Pre-operative/hospital admission patients (doctor's referral required)
  • Respiratory virus PCR testing (doctor's referral required)
  • Pregnant patients (doctor's referral required)
  • Corporate patients (corporate referral required)
  • Symptomatic patients (doctor's referral required)
  • Asymptomatic patients (doctor's referral required)
  • Close contact/exposure patients (doctor's referral required)

Melbourne Pathology COVID-19 testing locations

Location Open

70 Alfred St, North Melbourne
WALK-IN: No appointment needed

Mon - Fri 1pm – 4:30pm

257 Heaths Rd, Hoppers Crossing

Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 3:30pm

Gladstone Park Shopping Centre
Gladstone Park Drive, Gladstone Park

Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 3:30pm

Unit 2, 63 Main St, Pakenham

Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 3:30pm

266-270 Seaford Rd, Seaford

Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 3:30pm

4/266 Bolton St, Eltham

Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 3:30pm

258 Springvale Rd, Glen Waverley

Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 3:30pm



To book, patients can call 9287 7700 and select option 4, or email

For our drive thru sites: upon arrival, patients must remain in their car and call the mobile number on the signage. The collector will attend the patient's car.


  • All high-risk patients (clinically significantly unwell including high fever, symptoms or signs of pneumonia) must be referred to a hospital-associated COVID testing site and not the Melbourne Pathology sites.

Patients with a referral for both COVID-19 testing and other pathology tests

If your patient is experiencing respiratory symptoms, fever or has recently returned from overseas travel, please do not refer them to our standard collection centres. These sites are not equipped for COVID-19 collections or managing suspected COVID-19 patients and will not take the sample.

For COVID-19 PCR or respiratory virus PCR swab collection, refer your patient to one of our dedicated COVID-19 collection sites (listed above). If the patient has a referral for other pathology tests in addition to the COVID-19 and respiratory virus PCR testing, these will need to be performed after the patient has tested negative to COVID-19 or once given clearance from DHHS if the test is positive.

Patients with COVID-like symptoms needing a blood test

Melbourne Pathology recognises that not all patients with respiratory symptoms or fever have COVID-19 and understand routine medical care of these patients is necessary and appropriate. Not all collection centres are suitable for patients with symptoms to attend. Click here for more information and for a list of collection centres to attend.

Patients with symptoms needing a COVID test, should attend one of our dedicated COVID-19 collection sites listed above. 

Note for clinicians: All referrals for symptomatic patients needing a blood test or pathology collection other than a COVID test, should clearly state what is being investigated in the clinical notes.

 Testing for COVID-19

DHHS guidelines recommend COVID-19 testing for anyone with fever or respiratory symptoms.

 Click here for information on COVID-19 diagnostic testing (6 November 2020 update)

 COVID-19 swab collections

For COVID-19 collections, please use an orange-topped liquid Transwab, or a green-topped liquid swab. 

Take a throat swab first and then use THE SAME SWAB to take a nasal swab.

 Click here for testing and collection information (swabs to use - updated Sept 2021)

 Click here for COVID-19 nose and throat collection instructions

 Pre-operative COVID screening

A reminder to all clinicians that a pathology referral is required for all pre-operative patients attending for COVID testing. 

 Click here for more information for pre-operative COVID testing

Understanding your SMS and COVID-19 swab result

Receiving COVID-19 test results by SMS has become accepted practice for more than 12 months, but you may not always understand what the message means. Listed below are the possible results and explanations.

POSITIVE: PCR (the test) has detected more than one gene target from the virus at sufficient level to confirm infection.

NEGATIVE: PCR (the test) has not detected any gene targets from the virus, implying no virus present on the swab. Every test has a slightly different level of sensitivity, but they are all very sensitive and more sensitive than Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). A negative test assumes a well collected specimen.

INVALID: PCR (the test) has not detected more than one gene target, or has only detected two targets but at insufficient levels to confirm infection.  Recollection of a nose/throat swab or performance of a RAT test is advised depending on what is accessible, if still clinically required.

UNSUITABLE: the swab is compromised by factors such as age of the sample, wrong collection tube type, minimal sample left due to leakage, absence of patient identification, or presence of interfering substances (such as mucus). A valid result cannot be produced. Recollection of a nose/throat swab or performance of a RAT test is advised depending on what is accessible, if still clinically required.

NOT REQUIRED: the collection does not meet any agreed indication for testing (Medicare, Health Department directive or corporate agreement). No testing will be performed and no result issued.

All COVID-19 results are sent to patients via SMS where a mobile number has been provided. 
Please be aware that SMS is not considered completely secure and is subject to abuse, typographical error, misdirection or non-delivery. We will make every effort to SMS the result, but can take no responsibility should you fail to receive the SMS or your privacy is breached.

 Travelling overseas or interstate and need a COVID test?

If you or your patients are travelling overseas or interstate and need a COVID test, please visit the pages below:

 Overseas travel testing

 COVID-19 serology testing

SARS-CoV-2 serology testing is available at Melbourne Pathology

Currently, the main role of COVID-19 serology is in the retrospective diagnosis of disease. Testing is not advised until at least 14 days after a suspected illness. This test does NOT diagnose acute infection in the patient. COVID-19 serology assesses if the person has an immune response to the virus, which takes at least two weeks to develop. It may be useful when symptomatic individuals with suspected COVID-19 have not been tested by PCR for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of their illness, or when their result was negative or inconclusive. It can also identify those whose previous infection was asymptomatic.

While most infected individuals will have detectable antibody by the third week after symptom onset, the duration of the antibody response remains uncertain and whether it results in protective immunity, has not been established. It is important that all patients who have had infection with SARS-CoV-2, whether diagnosed by PCR or serology, should still have a COVID-19 vaccine when eligible.

Immigration/pre-travel testing

Our initial test is with the Roche Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Total antibody test, which detects both IgG and IgM. If testing for COVID-19 by IgM is required for immigration purposes, along with PCR, this will be covered by this assay. All samples which are reactive by this assay are reflexed to a second assay, the Diasorin Liaison IgG Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG test. These tests have been accredited by NATA for use in our laboratory.

For those requiring a COVID RT-PCR + IgM serology test for travel purposes, these patients must attend one of our asymptomatic COVID testing branches. Click here to view the list of available branches to attend. Please check the hours of COVID testing prior to presenting. Patients cannot attend one of these branches for a COVID test if they have COVID symptoms.

COVID serology for immunity testing

COVID-19 serology is a blood test that may detect previous COVID-19 infection.

There is no available data on the utility of current serology testing to determine the immunity gained from COVID-19 vaccination, so it is not generally recommended for this purpose.


Melbourne Pathology has a number of telehealth options available for clinicians performing Telehealth consults.

 Learn more about Telehealth

 Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Please also continue to stay up-to-date with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website.

 Click here for the latest on coronavirus from DHHS