For almost 12 hours, Anne Olsen was terrified that her family may have inadvertently sparked a new wave of Covid cases in Canberra.
Ms Olsen, along with husband Michael and her four children, all got tested for Covid in the ACT two days after they completed two weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney.
The family had only just moved back to Canberra after spending more than a year living in the US for work, which was cut short due to the pandemic.
While four of the Covid tests came back as negative, Ms Olsen said her heart dropped when she found out the test results for her daughter Sophie and son Thomas.
"We got told that night that the two kids were positive and we had to go straight to the Weston Covid clinic to be tested," Ms Olsen said.
"We were then all very stressed and I couldn't sleep all night because I thought 'what had we done?' because we had just had movers over and had visited family."
Thankfully, subsequent tests returned negative results for both Sophie and Thomas, with the two being among 11 false-positives that sparked a Canberra Covid scare. The 11 tests were conducted at a private pathology lab, which ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said was contaminated, leading to the false-positive readings.
The Olsen family received news about the subsequent negative test the morning after the initial false-positive result came through.
But just hours later, the family were forced to quarantine again.
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"We then got a call from ACT Health, saying we had to go back into isolation and would have to do another test 24 hours after the positive results came through, which would have been at 9pm," she said.
"The testing clinics at the time were closed so we were told to go to the one at EPIC first thing the next morning but we were refused testing because one of our children was under eight.
"We then had to go to Weston and go tested there and had to stay home until that final test came through."
Ms Olsen said while she could understand the degree of caution taken in the wake of Delta variant outbreaks in Sydney, the runaround from health officials following the false-positive and subsequent negative test created significant strain.
"There was no communication, with the labs and ACT Health telling us conflicting things which just added to the stress, and we didn't know who to believe," she said.
"I can understand the reasons for being overly cautious, but how many tests do you need to do until they know you are negative?
"It made us pretty upset that we had to go through all of this only because the lab had messed up and gave us a false-positive, and then not getting the correct communication afterwards made it worse."
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said health officials were working with the private pathology clinics to ensure a repeat incident of false-positives did not happen.
"The results had come to our attention pretty quickly because the [testing] didn't look right in having 11 cases pop up in the ACT and we didn't have any positive indication from waste water testing," she said.
"The results didn't look right...and it had a low viral load and all [11 tests] had the same pattern, and so it would have been categorised as an indeterminate test result."
It has been more than a year since the last locally acquired Covid case in the ACT.
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