Rapid antigen testing


Updated 28 February 2022

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that general practices are not distribution sites for people wanting a supply of RATs who don’t require a clinical assessment (for example people showing up just for a RATs supply) unless the general practice decides to opt in to doing this.

RATs are currently the primary testing option and a positive RAT does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test. The Close Contact Exemption Scheme (CCES) will be used in phase 3 for asymptomatic critical workers who are household contacts, using RATs.
 
Read the two-page testing guidance (opens to PDF).

There are a few situations where PCR testing may be indicated. PCR tests should be targeted to those who are at higher risk of severe illness, including members of priority populations. Situations where PCR testing may be considered include where:

  • an individual cannot self-administer a RAT and a supervised RAT is not available

if a patient returns a negative RAT but symptoms are persistent, a PCR test could be considered if confirmation of the diagnosis will inform the clinical management and care of an individual – for example if they are immunosuppressed and confirmation of diagnosis will determine if therapeutics can be used. For lower risk patients, a repeat RAT can be used instead.

The following table outlines the testing plan for asymptomatic and symptomatic persons that are likely to be seen in general practice. 

 

How to view a positive RAT result of your enrolled patients

  • Positive RAT results for enrolled patients will now go directly into the GP inbox
  • Results will appear in the GP inbox under the LAB Folder.
  • When opened from the inbox, the positive RAT result can be identified as part of the message.
More information


Funding

General practices will be funded $120 (excl GST) to undertake a combined clinical assessment and provide a test (either a RAT or PCR). In Phase 3, the test will predominately be a RAT and only PCR where clinically indicated. The RAT can either be supervised at the practice or unsupervised if the patient is able to self-administer the RAT themselves at home. This funding will be reviewed at the end of March 2022. 

Once a case is confirmed COVID-19 positive (either via a RAT or a PCR), general practices will have access to the COVID-19 Care in the Community general practice funding. This includes funding for further assessments, reviews and clinical escalation.

All funding and claiming will be made available through existing payment mechanisms with DHBs and PHOs. 

Supervised RATS in general practice 

A supervised test should be conducted where a person is symptomatic and meets the requirements of the testing plan. A positive RAT result can be treated as a case and managed accordingly. A positive result does not require a PCR test as confirmation (see above). When a test result is entered in HealthLink, the patient will receive an automated text message with their result and details of the next steps.

It will be at the discretion of the general practice how they manage their patients and clinical examinations, regarding COVID-19 symptomatic patients and if a patient remains at the clinic until the RAT result can be provided to them.
Please refer to the Guidance for the Supervision of Rapid Antigen Testing on the Ministry of Health website on the provision of this service.

Unsupervised RATS

An asymptomatic critical worker who is a household contact can, under the Close Contact Exemption Scheme, be supplied with unsupervised RATs (it is recommended to provide eight tests to cover the whole isolation period) to take
away and perform the test themselves in conjunction with the document on how to take a RAT. For your reference, the links are provided here for information on: How to take a RAT, Guidance for Critical Workers and the Close

Ordering RATS

RATs can be continued to be ordered through the Ministry of Health PPE portal.

Any queries relating to HealthLink and IT support cand be directed to HealthLink service desk on 0800 288 887

If you have any queries regarding information contained in this guidance, please email: COVID-19testing@health.govt.nz  

How to order RAT tests – there is no charge

If you already have an existing account on the PPE portal with either Healthcare Logistics (HCL) or Onelink (OL) you are now able to order RATs via your existing login on the portal.

The Ministry recommends that you place initial orders as follows:

  • Unsupervised tests –five per frontline staff member plus a 10 percent contingency. The use of unsupervised RATs will most likely be in support of enabling our critical workforces to remain at work.
  • Supervised tests – a quantity commensurate with the more vulnerable population (elderly, high needs, Māori, Pacific, high deprivation) that your practice supports, who are unlikely to be able to source or use unsupervised RATs themselves. The testing strategy for Omicron is still being confirmed, however it is likely to include the use of unsupervised RATs by the public. As such we expect the quantity of supervised tests that you may perform to be comparatively small and focused largely on those that will need additional support with undertaking a RAT.

Ordering RATs
Please order in carton quantities only when it is appropriate to do so. The Ministry suggests that you order one pack per staff member and then add a small contingency supply of approximately 10 percent.

The Panbio Abbott 25pk supervised test and the Roche 25pk supervised test have been added to the product catalogue for you to order. You do not need to order both types of supervised tests: please choose one. Also ensure your orders are proportionate to your expected initial demand. The Ministry can provide you with further supplies if demand is more than what you expected.

Use the table below to order. The quantity you order can be multiplied by the unit of measure to give you the total number of tests you will receive. 

 

All new accounts are being setup through HCL regardless of region   To open an account and gain access to the online portal you will need to run through the standard credit process even if you already have an account with HCL. 

Further information on the approved uses for the RATs tests (beyond those approved so far) will be provided when finalised. Guidance and training links on how to do supervised RATs are provided below.

Read Roche’s advice for RAT testing  

Read information about Panbio’s RAT testing 

Instructions about the Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device 

If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact us via covid.healthsupplychain@health.govt.nz