Rapid antigen tests for community (COVID-19)

Last updated: 18 January 2022


Rapid antigen tests are a quick way to detect COVID-19. 

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Register a positive rapid antigen test result

From 12 January, you must report a positive rapid antigen test result:

  • within 24 hours of getting the result.
  • every time you get a positive result.

If you have tested positive and reported your result, you can:

  • quickly understand your relative level of risk based on your personal circumstances
  • access support services available from NSW Health

Register your COVID-19 test result.

Important information

COVID-19 testing requirements in NSW have changed. More information can be found on the getting tested for COVID-19 fact sheet

Please read the information on this page to understand how rapid antigen tests (RATs) should be correctly used.  

Who should do a rapid antigen test?

  • People with symptoms
  • Household, social, workplace or education contact of a positive case
  • Anyone before going to an event with lots of others, or before visiting vulnerable family members
  • Anyone arriving from overseas (passengers and flight crew)

What happens if I get a positive rapid antigen test result?

If you test positive on a rapid antigen test you may be a confirmed case if:

Test result

Symptoms

Exposure risk

Next step

Yes

Yes

Known or unknown contact

You are a confirmed case, follow the advice for people testing positive for COVID-19

Yes

Yesor No

Known high risk or household contact

You are a confirmed case, follow the advice for people testing positive for COVID-19

Yes

No

No known contact

You may be a case, take another rapid antigen test in 24 hours or have a PCR test

You do not need to have your rapid antigen test confirmed with a PCR test unless you have:

  • COVID-19 symptoms, but have tested negative on a rapid antigen test AND are at higher risk of severe disease - including those who are pregnant, immunosuppressed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander, or unvaccinated
  • COVID-19 symptoms and can’t get a rapid antigen test
  • been asked to have a PCR test from a health care provider.

If you are having difficulty or delays in accessing a PCR test, you should call the NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933.

What happens if I get a negative rapid antigen test result?

If you are a household contact or classified as a high risk exposure you need to continue to isolate for 7 days. You must follow the advice for people exposed to COVID-19 to determine your risk. To determine if you are a high risk exposure use the information for people exposed to COVID-19 and follow the relevant isolation advice.

If you have symptoms, please take another rapid antigen test in 24 hours or have a PCR test. If your second test is positive you are considered a confirmed case. If the second test is negative, you should isolate until your symptoms have gone.

If I am a confirmed case what do I do?

You should follow the advice for people testing positive for COVID-19 and self-isolate for 7 days since date of the positive rapid antigen test.

You should register your positive test result as soon as possible by visiting the Service NSW app or website. Providing NSW Health with your test result will enable us to connect you to the best care and recovery plan appropriate to you.

What type of rapid antigen tests should I use?

The Australian Government's regulatory agency, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), oversees the conditions of supply for rapid antigen test kits

For your own safety you should only use a self-test kit that has been approved by the TGA. The TGA website has a list of all home use tests approved by the TGA, along with a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions for each test.

A consumer fact sheet is available on the TGA website.

More detailed information on rapid antigen self-tests can be found on the TGA website

 

How do I use a rapid antigen test kit?

There are different self-test kits available. Follow the instructions provided within the test. Watch a quick video from NSW Health on how to use a basic test.

All tests are for single use only. This means you can only use each test once. Do not use a test more than once or try to use one test on multiple people.

 

Can rapid antigen test kit be used for children?

Yes. Tests for children should always be done or supervised by an adult. Some kits cannot be used on young children and babies. Please carefully follow any instructions provided with the test kit if using the test on a child or baby. 

How do I store and dispose of a rapid antigen test?

Store the test kit in a safe, dry, cool space. Refer to the test kit instructions.

Disposal will vary according to information provided with the test instructions. Some tests come with a plastic bag to place the contents of the test into (including the swab).

This bag is then placed into another bag for disposal with the household rubbish. Test kit materials are not recyclable.

If no bags are provided you can place the used items from the test into a small plastic bag that can be sealed. This bag should be put into another bag that can be sealed and disposed of in the household rubbish. 

Wash your hands carefully after completing the test and disposing of the test kit contents.

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