Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) will be used as the primary test at Auckland community testing centres (CTCs) from today to help meet demand for testing as the Omicron outbreak grows.
The move, which is part of the Ministry of Health’s planned testing strategy, follows RATs being rolled out to CTCs in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Southern yesterday to be used in conjunction with PCR tests in those centres.
RATS will be rolled out to CTCs at other centres across the country this week. The site will determine which test (PCR or RAT) is best for you.
In Auckland, if people feel uncomfortable doing a RAT or a staff member identifies it as being appropriate, they may still get a PCR test.
It was anticipated that as the outbreak grows, more people would have COVID-19 and there would be more close contacts who need to be tested.
The increased use of RATs in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of our response will relieve pressure on the PCR testing and reserve it for those who are unwell and more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19.
The new testing regime in Auckland will mean symptomatic people and/or asymptomatic close contacts whose RAT is positive will be considered a case and do not need to be verified through a PCR test. This will further relieve pressure on the system. This change will also be rolled out to other centres.
After testing, people will need to record their result in My Covid Record, as well as advise their employer. If you cannot access My Covid Record, then they should call 0800 222 478.
Although there are still significant global supply constraints, we have secured the delivery of enough RATs to help New Zealand through a widespread Omicron outbreak in the coming months. There are currently 6.9 million RATs in the system with around 14.7 million expected by the end of the month.
The growing outbreak across the country has resulted in laboratories no longer being able to pool their PCR testing capacity, which had previously helped reduce pressure in areas with high case numbers. There is a current baseline capacity of around 31,000 PCR tests per day.