Rapid antigen tests will now be free for eligible Australians and positive rapid antigens will no longer need a confirmation PCR test, National Cabinet has agreed.
State and territory leaders agreed to the new announcements as COVID-19 case soar across the country, testing queues are banked up for hours and people are waiting days for their PCR results to come back.
Here is what we know about who can get a free rapid antigen test and when you will need to get a PCR test.
Who is eligible for a free rapid antigen test?
Scott Morrison announced today rapid antigen tests would not be “universally free” however some Australians will be able to access them for free.
You can get one for free if you are one of the following cardholders:
Commonwealth seniors health card,
A healthcare card,
A low-income card,
A pension concession card,
DVA Gold card
DVA white card
Mr Morrison said more than 6.6 million people fall into these categories.
Where can I get them?
For these eligible cardholders, you will be available to get the free tests in pharmacies and there will be caps on how many you can purchase.
“They will be able to get up to 10 tests over a course of three months, no more than five per month,” Mr Morrison said.
“They should only be getting those test their if they are not symptomatic and they are not close contacts.”
When do I need to get a PCR test?
It was also announced today that if you take a rapid antigen test and it comes back positive, you won’t need to get a follow up PCR test to confirm the result.
So you will only need to take the rapid antigen test and if it comes back positive, you will begin the seven day isolation period.
National Cabinet also announced last week the day six testing requirement for confirmed COVID-19 cases was removed.
However, if you are still symptomatic on day six of your isolation you should seek either another rapid antigen test or PCR test.
Close contacts still need to undergo a day six rapid antigen test to leave isolation.
What happens if you do get a positive rapid antigen test?
Mr Morrison advised if you have a positive rapid antigen test, you should let your health provider know that you have COVID-19.
This is because the PCR testing system was originally used by health authorities to know how many positive COVID-19 cases there are nationwide.
The federal government is also working on a reporting system so that you can report your positive test result.
“We are working on a system through our GPs and other processes for people to report that they have got a positive test,” he said.
What else has changed?
Truck drivers will no longer be required to have seven-day rolling tests.
If you are going to the hospital as a patient for treatment and going to work in the private hospital sector you will also not be required to get a COVID-19 test.
The requirement for a second test post-arrival in Australia from overseas will also be removed.
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