Over 60,000 people have been contacted by NSW Health and told they have tested positive for Covid-19 — only the messages are up to a year or more out of date.
In a significant bungle, NSW Health said it had “sent text messages in error” to “about 60,700 people” regarding “historic, positive Covid-19 results”.
The messages state “you have tested POSITIVE for COVID-19” and include advice such as accessing antiviral medicines and what to do if “you develop severe symptoms”.
This reporter received a text from NSW Health at 4.30pm Monday informing us we had tested positive for Covid-19 — over a year ago.
“NSW Health message – you have tested POSITIVE for COVID-19. Your test date: 22-12-2021,” the message says.
(We did test positive for Covid-19 in December 2021).
False alarm: a text message received by the author on Monday.
At 11.26pm Monday night NSW Health sent us another message advising us the message had been “due to technical error”.
“NSW Health sent you a text message today advising that you tested positive to COVID,” the message says.
“If you have not tested positive to COVID in recent days, please disregard this message as it was sent due to a technical error.
“NSW Health apologises for this error,” it says.
“Technical error”: the follow up message on Monday night.
We emailed NSW Health at 8.51am today seeking information about the bungle, and received a statement in response at 4.17pm.
NSW Health said a “technical error” which it was “investigating” had seen the text messages sent to about 60,700 people.
“NSW Health sent text messages in error to members of the public on Monday 20February regarding historic, positive COVID-19 results,” the statement says.
“This message can be disregarded if you haven’t tested positive on a PCR test orregistered a positive rapid antigen test result in recent days.
“We are investigating the technical error that caused these text messages to be sentto about 60,700 people,” it says.
NSW Health’s response to The Klaxon. Source: NSW Health
The NSW Health Facebook page warns of “scams” associated with Covid, such as fake Covid diagnosis alerts.
Over the past two days it has issued five new posts, including a post last night reminding people to “stay cool” in summer and a post at 2pm today “celebrating International Mother Language Day”.
At 6pm this evening the page made no mention of the Covid text bungle.
There have been several digital bungles since Covid-19 arrived in Australia in early 2020.
In December 2021 major pathology service SydPath told over 400 people they were negative for Covid-19 when they were positive.
SydPath, which operates a pathology service inside Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital and a drive through service at Bondi Beach, attributed the mistake to “human error”.
The former Scott Morrison Federal Government famously spent $14 million on an app called COVIDsafe which identified just two unique infections.
Morrison had spruiked the app as “essential as putting on sunscreen” but in August last year, three months after the ALP was elected, new Health Minister Mark Butler said it was a “colossal waste of money” and told people to delete it.
“Mr Morrison previously called the app a ticket to a Covid-safe Australia, saying: ’It gives us protection as a nation’,” the BCC reported at the time.
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