National COVID-19 Update: National cabinet agrees new testing requirements
What you need to know
- Anyone returning a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) will no longer need to have their test result confirmed by a PCR test
- Anyone who is symptomatic or a close contact to attend a testing clinic for initial test (PCR or RAT), where immediate access to a RAT is not available
- Confirmed cases still self-isolate for seven days from receiving a positive test result. No RAT is needed to cease isolation if asymptomatic
- Up to 10 free RATs over a three-month period will be available for concession card holders from pharmacies
Yesterday National Cabinet met to consider measures that would reduce the pressure on testing clinics and the processing of results. Access to both RAT and PCR testing has significantly reduced due to demands arising from the Omicron strain of the virus.
It is recommended providers check State and Territory requirements as there are variations in how these National Cabinet decisions are being implemented. NDS will provide State or Territory specific advice as available.
Testing changes in effect from 6 January
- People who receive a positive RAT result no longer need to have their test result confirmed via a PCR test
- Testing clinics will use both RAT and PCR tests for close contacts and those with symptoms. RAT use at testing centres has been introduced to alleviate pressure on the time involved to access and process PCR tests
- Covid positive cases will no longer need to undertake a RAT on Day 6 prior to leaving self-isolation, provided they are asymptomatic.
Testing access and supplies for people with disability and workers
- Up to 10 free RATs over 3 months will be available through pharmacies for concession card holders including Commonwealth senior card, low income, pension concession and DVA gold or white cards
- However, anyone who is deemed a close contact or is symptomatic must attend a testing clinic where RAT will be available for free, and not source their RAT from a pharmacy.
All Governments have RAT supplies arriving in the coming weeks, however, until supplies become available there will be some strain on the system.
NDS continues to advocate at Commonwealth, State and Territory levels regarding the current pressure on the sector including:
- Priority PCR testing (where this is required) and free or funded RAT
- Expanded NDIA funded RAT to include all disability supports to manage risk and reduce pressure on workforce
- Clarity on work, health and safety obligations regarding evidence of worker RAT results for furlough and resumption of work
- Consistency of testing isolation and COVID management requirements nationally.
NDS will provide additional local information for state and territories as it is announced.
NDS January COVID update sessions
NDS is hosting a national webinar on 12 January, 1.30 to 2.30pm AEDT which will focus on the current COVID needs, supports and emerging issues that can be taken up with Governments.
For State and Territory specific COVID events occurring across NDS in January, please check the NDS events and training page.
- For Providers - COVID-19 - NDIS
- Disability provider Alerts - Australian Government Department of Health
- Providing disability support services during COVID-19 - Australian Government Department of Health
- NDS COVID-19 hub for information and resources including PP