Exemption from the COVID-19 test procedure is rather complicated. Some people keep testing positive to COVID-19 long after full recovery from the illness. The implications of this are that they cannot travel, cannot attend study or work where regular negative COVID-19 test results are required.

There is a certificate that can be issued to patients who have this issue.

The Department of Health states:

If you have had COVID-19 before and your COVID-19 PCR test result continues to be positive, you will be eligible for an exemption to be allowed to travel if you provide at check-in:

  • your positive COVID-19 PCR test result (taken no more than 3 days before your flight), and
  • a certificate from your medical practitioner. This must be issued within 14 days before the day of the relevant flight.

Your certificate must clearly include:

  • the date the certificate is provided
  • a statement to the effect that:
    • you have had COVID‑19 but are now recovered and not considered to be infectious; and
    • if you had symptoms associated with your positive test, there has been clinical resolution of fever and respiratory symptoms of the acute illness for at least the previous 3 days prior to the issuing of the certificate. (PS: This relates to a known source of infection e.g. sinusitis)

(Reference here. Last accessed 11/12/2021)

The algorithm for this kind of Certificate is reproduced below. Please, walk through the steps to arrive at a decision to issue the certificate or not.

Step 1. Establishing a historical case (for the purpose of issuing the Certificate)

  • A historical case requires laboratory suggestive evidence supported by either previous (prior to the past 14 days) clinical evidence.


  • Previous (prior to the past 14 days) epidemiological evidence. 

A historical case should not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (or not have had symptoms of COVID-19 for the past 14 days). 

Step 2. Laboratory evidence.

  • Detection of SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on two specimens at least 24 hours apart with high Ct values3 on both specimens AND detection of IgG or total antibody, in the absence of vaccination.2,4


  • Negative PCR result AND detection of IgG or total antibody, in the absence of vaccination.2


  • High PCR Ct result on first result, and higher PCR Ct result or negative PCR result on second test, taken >24 hours apart.2

Step 3. Clinical evidence.

  • History of measured (≥37.5°C) or self-reported fever (for example, night sweats, chills).


  • History of an acute respiratory infection (for example, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat). 
  • Loss of smell or taste.

Step 4. Epidemiological evidence. (PS: Must be absent.)

In the 14 days prior to illness onset: 

  • close contact with a confirmed case
  • international travel
  • workers supporting designated COVID-19 quarantine and isolation services
  • international border staff
  • air and maritime crew
  • health, aged or residential care workers and staff with potential COVID-19 patient contact
  • people who have been in a setting where there is a COVID-19 case
  • people who have been in areas with recent local transmission of SARS-CoV-26.


Occasionally a person may have a positive PCR result, with high Ct values, on a subset of gene targets in the PCR assay/s used. These scenarios may be due to acute infection but could also represent previous infection (that is, intermittent/persistent SARS-CoV-2 shedding in a historical case), sometimes with a concurrent upper respiratory tract infection due to another organism. A further swab collected at least 24 hours after the positive sample and serology testing can assist in distinguishing an acute from a historical COVID-19 infection. If the person is symptomatic, a full respiratory panel for other pathogens should be done.

(Reference: here. Last accessed 11/12/2021)