Free rapid antigen tests now available for home testing

Source: 1News

Free rapid antigen tests (RATS) can now be ordered online to test Covid-19 household contacts or symptomatic people.

Rapid antigen test.

For those who fit the criteria, RATS can be ordered though the newly launched RAT requester site. A list of the locations RATS can be collected is here.

“It’s one of a range of ways we are make testing more readily available for those who need it,” said Jo Pugh, acting group manager of Covid-19 Testing and Supply.

“We have a good supply of RATs to meet demand during Phase Three of our Omicron response.

On top of the 15 million that arrived last week, 2.6 million RATs arrived on Tuesday, followed by a delivery of 5.1 million RATs on Wednesday.”

The website contains features to prevent people from ordering too many RATs, ensuring everyone who needs one, can get one.

There are now more than 500 access points for RATS nationwide, including participating pharmacies, GPs, testing centres, and collection sites.

Additional sites continue to open across the country.

“The ability to place an order online ensures that the process is smoother when people go to collect them,” Pugh said.

“It also means that the whole whānau don’t need to queue up at the testing centre when one person in the household gets sick, because you’ll be able to collect RATs for everyone in your household.”

“RATs are also available for purchase in some retail stores now for people who are not unwell or household contacts but want a RAT for other reasons.

“We want to make sure that getting tested is as easy as possible for people – it is an important part of our strategy to slow the spread of the virus to keep the pressure off hospitals."

Pugh says GPs will also be using RATs as part of clinical consultations, where appropriate.

“By the end of March, we expect to build up the number of places where RATs are available to 1000 sites around the country, so the majority of New Zealanders can access a free RAT within 20 minutes driving distance.

“The Ministry of Health is also exploring options to deliver RATs to those to order them.”

“Increased use of RATs will ease some of the pressure on our laboratories over the next three to six weeks, while helping to ensure critical services and supply chains remain operational, our most vulnerable communities are protected, and our economy keeps moving.”