COVID-19: Rapid antigen tests

Also called RATs

Key points about COVID-19 and rapid antigen tests

  • Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are currently New Zealand’s primary testing tool for people with COVID-19 symptoms or household contacts.
  • RAT is generally taken with a front of nose swab. Tests can be carried out under supervision (done by a healthcare professional), or you can do it yourself.
  • Find out more about when you should have a test and how to report them.
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Testing for COVID-19 with RATs is still important as it helps to:

  • manage the spread of COVID-19
  • support eligible people to access antiviral medications
  • help to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on hospital admission rates.

Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms is recommended to stay at home and test with a RAT.

If somebody in your household has COVID-19 you no longer have to test unless you develop symptoms. If you do get symptoms, do a RAT test and if it's positive its recommended you isolate for 5 days. If it's negative and symptoms continue, stay at home and take another test in 24 and 48 hours.

Read more about COVID-19 symptoms and how to manage them. 

RATs will remain free until 30 September 2024. You can continue to pick up free RATs for yourself and household members from participating pharmacies and RAT collection centres.

Locations which have RATs available can be found on the Healthpoint website(external link).

How to take the test will vary, depending on the brand of RAT. If you are doing the test yourself, we recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You can find these instructions inside with the testing kit. You can also read Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora advice on how to use a RAT test(external link).

All RAT kits should be kept out of reach of young children and stored safely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you need support to carry out a test or to understand the results, call Healthline free on 0800 358 5453.

If you get a negative test result and do not have symptoms, you continue doing your day-to-day activities like going to work or school.
If you get a negative test result but you do have symptoms, stay at home and take another RAT 24 and 48 hours later.
If you get a positive test result, it is recommended that you stay home and isolate for at least 5 days. Report your result (see below).

Yes, report the results of your RAT through My Covid Record. Record all results (positive and negative) as it helps us better understand the outbreak.

To report your result, log in to your My Health Record(external link) (used to be My Covid Record).

Parents and caregivers can now choose to use My Health record to report RAT results for children under 12 and other family members. If you're having problems getting results for your tamariki registered, your GP surgery can help with that.

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