Previously, these tests were administered in certain settings and supervised by a trained health practitioner, but they are now approved for at-home use in all states, except for South Australia and Western Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved several different brands of the test, which can deliver a result in 10 to 20 minutes. However, they are not as accurate as the so-called PCR tests most Australians are used to and which take a few hours. If a rapid antigen test is positive, then a PCR test is recommended. The same goes if a negative result comes but symptoms persist.
The tests are reportedly expected to cost between $10 and $30 for a two or five pack and are not covered by Medicare.
The TGA said rapid test availability is an important step in transitioning Australia’s National COVID-19 Response now that vaccination rates are higher.
Businesses urged to think about procedures
Rapid antigen testing has been used in some industries in Australia and internationally to screen employees who are showing no symptoms of the virus and prevent the spread of the virus in workplaces.
Businesses can now purchase tests for their workers to use at home or on site, but the TGA recommended they have a procedure for notifying authorities so a follow-up PCR test can be performed. They also recommended processes to protect private patient information and for a possible closure of business and isolation of staff if a positive result is received. Further advice is available on the TGA’s website.
NSW freedoms brought forward
In other COVID news, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet held a press conference on Tuesday morning in which he announced additional freedoms for vaccinated residents of the state would be brought forward to next week from the previous target of 1 December, while unvaccinated adults will have to wait longer than anticipated. Changes include lowering the density limit for hospitality venues from 4 to 2 square metres.
It comes one day after the borders were opened to allow fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents to leave the country without a permit.