Free rapid antigen tests now available for home testing

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

For those who meet the criteria, RATS can be ordered through the new RAT Request Site. A list of places where RATS can be collected is here.

“It’s one of the many ways we’re making testing more readily available to those who need it,” said Jo Pugh, acting group leader of Covid-19 Testing and Supply.

“We have a good supply of RAT to meet demand during phase three of our Omicron response.

In addition to 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 that anyone who needs one can get one.

There are now more than 500 access points for RATS across the country, including participating pharmacies, GPs, testing centers and collection sites.

Other sites continue to open across the country.

“Being able to place an order online ensures that the process is smoother when people pick them up,” Pugh said.

“It also means the whole whānau doesn’t have to queue at the testing center when someone in the household gets sick, because you can collect RATs for everyone in your household.”

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

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

Pugh says GPs will also use the RATs as part of clinical consultations where appropriate.

“By the end of March, we plan to increase the number of places where RATs are available to 1,000 locations across the country, so that the majority of New Zealanders can access a free RAT in a radius of 20 minutes by car.

“The Department of Health is also exploring options for delivering RATs to those who order them.”

“The increased use of RATs will reduce some of the pressure on our laboratories over the next three to six weeks, while helping to ensure that critical services and supply chains remain operational, that our most vulnerable communities are protected and that our economy continues to move forward.”

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