A WARRNAMBOOL man who works at a Colac abattoir has re-tested positive to COVID-19, three weeks after he was diagnosed and then given the all-clear by the health department to return to work.
His partner has spoken out about what they have described as a "confusing" and "unjustifiable" handling of the virus by the state health department.
The 36-year-old Australian Lamb Colac worker first tested positive to the virus on July 22 when a colleague returned a positive test.
In a letter seen by The Standard, he was given the all-clear by the Department of Health and Human Services to return to work last Thursday after isolating for just over three weeks.
But he developed symptoms and re-tested positive to the virus on Monday.
He was told that if he didn't have any symptoms in 24-to-48 hours he could return to work, but couldn't be told with 100 per cent certainty that he wasn't contagious.
His positive result showed up on DHHS figures on Thursday.
Meanwhile his partner, a teacher at the Warrnambool Special Developmental School, said she wasn't initially classified as eligible to be tested for the virus despite her partner being a close contact of a confirmed case.
It was only when he tested positive that she could get a test.
She said she's thankful she exercised "common sense" and stayed away from the classroom while he awaited his result.
"The sad and serious part about this is that since re-testing positive he's been told he's free to go out if he doesn't show symptoms in 24-to-48 hours, but they can't say with 100 per cent certainty he won't be contagious and he doesn't have to re-test," she said.
"They say they are pretty sure he's not contagious this time around but can't give us confirmation.
"He hasn't been out and I've been self-isolating too, I've had three tests and they've all come back negative but I still won't return back to work or go out in the community until I'm 100 per cent sure it isn't contagious.
"The guidelines are so grey it's terrible."
The couple have been isolating from one another for over a month.
They came forward because they didn't want people in the community to think there was another outbreak.
"When he first tested we didn't say anything because we were told not to talk to anybody about it but I can't let people think there's another outbreak," she said.
"We're both still living within our home, we're not out and about in the community. We're trying to do the right thing.
"We want to show just how stuffed up the whole process really is. It's been so confusing for us, we can't comprehend what we're meant to do and how we're meant to do it
If they had followed DHHS guidelines they would both be back out in the community today, but the pair said they were not prepared to risk it.
They said they had been living in separate parts of the house, and he was not allowed anywhere near the kitchen.
He said he had been feeling constantly lethargic, experiencing headaches and at one point was admitted to hospital because he felt like "his heart was pulping out of his chest".
"We were cleared to be back at work this week but every part of this is wrong," the woman continued.
"How can I be at a school with children and be living with a positive case?
"He only worked beside someone and he got it, yet I'm living with him and somehow it doesn't count?
"We just can't justify it."
The Department of Health and Human Services has been contacted by The Standard for comment.
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