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States move to make positive rapid test results official


Paul Hayes


6/01/2022 4:25:05 PM

To reduce stress on PCR testing, Victoria and Queensland are establishing systems for people to record their positive rapid antigen test results.

A person taking a rapid antigen test.
Victorians who return a positive result on a rapid antigen test will be required to report their result to the Department of Health.

With no end in sight to Australia’s COVID-19 testing crisis, states are starting to take it upon themselves to help ease pressure on PCR testing systems.
 
Victoria and Queensland have taken steps to make positive rapid antigen test results official.
 
In what the Victorian Government is calling ‘the biggest change to the COVID-19 testing system since the beginning of the pandemic’, from 11.59 pm Thursday 6 January people who test positive on a rapid antigen test will be considered probable cases.
 
It will be mandatory for people to report the positive rapid result to the Department of Health through an online form or by phone, which will help to ensure ‘people can access the care and information they need, including monitoring for worsening symptoms and financial support for isolation’.
 
Victorians who test positive on a rapid antigen test will be subject to the same requirements as confirmed cases from a PCR test, meaning they must immediately isolate for seven days and notify close contacts.
 
The move is designed to help reserve PCR testing for confirmation of clinical diagnoses in vulnerable settings and critical workforce testing, while reducing testing wait times and allowing faster access to clinical care.
 
‘Rapid antigen tests will be the way most Victorians can confirm they have COVID-19,’ Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said. ‘They are very accurate among contacts and people with symptoms, and there’ll be no queuing for hours or waiting for days for a result.’
 
In Queensland, meanwhile, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the state is working on a system for people to report positive rapid antigen test results.
 
‘We do still want to know that someone’s positive, but that shouldn’t have to be coming and getting a PCR test, lining up for hours and waiting days for a result,’ she said.
 
‘We’re working on a system at the moment that we hope people will be able to notify us very easily that they have got a positive rapid antigen test so we can get them into a system, where we know numbers that will help us model and understand the growth of the virus in the community.’
 
Minister D’Ath wants to see a similar system established at a national level.
 
‘This was a discussion with health ministers [Wednesday] morning,’ she said. ‘I know they’re looking at this at a national level, I would like to see a national level set up.’
 
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