Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs)
As part of the country's move to Phase 3 of the (Covid) Omicron response, Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT tests) are now the main method of testing. The introduction of RAT tests means many more people can access testing and get results more quickly, helping reduce the spread of the virus.
Please note these RAT tests are not for purchase, for surveillance testing, or for pre-departure testing.
The RAT tests are used to detect the virus, like PCR swabs do.
You are eligible for testing - RAT test or, in some cases a PCR swabs - when:
- You have cold or flu-like symptoms;
- You are a household contact of a Covid positive case;
- You have been advised by public health or a hospital doctor to have a test (pre-admission).
PCR testing is still available at Community Based Testing Sites (CBCT) sites and through general practices and some other providers. PCR tests (swabs) are generally used for vulnerable populations, healthcare workers, anyone unable to self-administer a RAT test, or for pre-admission testing on advice of your doctor.
CBCTs clinicians have discretion to administer PCR tests for other symptomatic patients as they deem appropriate.
WellSouth's 0-800-VIRUS-19 (0800 847-8719) call centre can help you access testing.
Report your result
If you test positive with a RAT test you do not need to have that confirmed by PCR – you are a case.
Your test result - positive or negative - should be reported. Please update your My Covid Record https://mycovidrecord.health.nz/ with your result. Call 0800 222 478, option 3, if you need any support to do that.
You should self-isolate, whether or not you have symptoms, for 10 days and are symptom-free.
If you test is positive
Once you have reported your result, you will receive a text notification (within 24 hours) confirming the Covid positive result - you have to report your result - and you will need to complete an online form in the link you receive in the text message as soon as possible. This will ensure you have access to the appropriate care and support when you need it.
Care when you have Covid
Most healthy people who have Covid can safely self-manage at home. However, help is available. If you are unwell or your symptoms worsen, contact your usual health provider or HealthLine (0800 358 5453 ). Dial 111 in an emergency. If you or your whānau need welfare support please call 0800 512 337.
RAT tests and General Practices
Many general practices will also be able to offer supervised RAT tests to patients who meet the criteria noted above. Check with your general practice about accessing. More details soon.
RAT tests for Critical Workers
To keep New Zealand critical services operating as Omicron spreads, critical businesses and organisations are provided with a pathway to keep their critical employees working in the event they are exposed to someone with COVID-19. This is known as the Close Contact Exemption Scheme.
Critical workers at eligible businesses self-identify themselves to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as critical, and need Covid RAT tests to continue working as part of the Close Contact Exemption Scheme.
At present - Ministry of Health guidance is that critical workers must be a household contact of a positive Covid case, be fully-vaccinated and symptom-free, to qualify to receive the RAT tests.
Eligible workers must place an order via the Rapid Antigen Test Order form on the Ministry of Health website. And collect the RAT tests from designated sites. The form also gives the option to have tests delivered by courier.
Southern DHB Rapid Antigen Testing (RATs) for Healthcare and Critical Workers • Healthpoint
More information is available from the Ministry of Health: https://covid19.govt.nz/testing-and-tracing/contact-tracing/critical-workers/