Talk of people falsely reporting positive rapid antigen tests to authorities has become a reality for the NSW health minister.
Brad Hazzard on Tuesday revealed he had been advised to isolate by an automated NSW Health message due to a report of a positive COVID-19 test being submitted under his name.
The incident follows Mr Hazzard receiving reports that others were being subjected to false test reporting submitted by others.
“It’s just a silly exercise and quite counterproductive,” he told AAP on Tuesday.
Not only was it a “massive waste of time” for NSW Health and Service NSW, it also hampered the state’s efforts to track the flow of Omicron.
The false report is also illegal – breaching a public health order about supplying false information to NSW Health and carrying a $5000 fine.
Mr Hazzard said he had advised Service NSW the report was false and the matter would be referred to NSW Police.
“I would be very hopeful the culprit or culprits are found and given a wake-up call,” he said.
Reporting a positive RAT result can be done through a user’s Service NSW account.
But an account isn’t necessary, and a person can submit a result on the web form for themselves or on behalf of another person.
Each report requires a declaration that the user understands giving false or misleading information is a serious crime, carrying fines or jail time.
Asked whether Service NSW could do more to verify people’s identities, Mr Hazzard said officials had known there would be a risk “a very small number” of people would do the wrong thing.
“That’s why laws counter that … (but) it’s impossible to legislate against sheer stupidity,” he said.
At a morning press conference, Mr Hazzard labelled the behaviour as “quite moronic”.
“It is juvenile, it is moronic, but it’s also so disappointing that you would actually undermine the incredibly hardworking public health team here in NSW,” he told reporters.
All states except Western Australia accept positive RAT reports via online forms.
South Australia requires a positive case to verify their mobile phone number.
Like NSW, Tasmania requires users to sign a declaration that acknowledges heavy fines apply to those making false reports.