In addition to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) will now also be used as a diagnostic tool for COVID with a compulsory registration system for positive RAT test results, in line with health advice for high caseload settings.
Registering positive results online
People who have self-administered a RAT at home for COVID-19 and tested positive, must register their result online with the Department of Health.
This process will take several minutes and can be completed by the person who has returned the positive result or another person on their behalf - if they need assistance.
The mandatory registration requires information to be logged including:
- Date and time of the test
- Personal details about your situation
- Phone number to be contacted on
People who do not have access to the online registration system must still report their positive test result and can do so by contacting 13 COVID (13 26843).
When a positive result is registered, WA Health will assess how best to manage the situation, including whether health care is needed, and provide advice on what to do next.
Completing a Rapid Antigen Test
The RAT is a quick test to check for COVID-19 and provides a result within 15 to 30 minutes, and all kits have a QR code which links to a video that demonstrate how to take a test.
There are two types of RATs:
- Saliva test – user spits into a tube, or sucks on a swab
- Nasal swab – user swabs each nostril.
Self-test kits will contain:
- Test device
- Spit funnel or nasal swab
- Test tube with dropper cap to collect samples
- Buffer (chemical solution that extract the virus from samples)
- Instructions for use
In line with national health advice, RATs are safe to use with children older than two years and children aged 12 to 17 years can perform the test with parent or guardian supervision. Parents or guardians should perform tests on children under 12 years.
When to complete a Rapid Antigen Test
RATs, in a high case load environment, are recommended for use if:
- attending a large gathering in a crowded place such as a wedding or funeral
- visiting a person who is vulnerable to risks of COVID-19
- visiting a high-risk setting, e.g. an aged care facility, hospital or disability group home
- need to check quickly for COVID-19
- recommended by the Department of Health.
While a RAT provides a quick result and is useful in a high case load environment, the WA Government is urging Western Australians to keep utilising the PCR testing clinics as the priority, while clinics are able to manage the number of PCR tests required.
Approved travellers into WA are recommended to obtain a PCR test at a COVID-19 Clinic, or alternatively to use a RAT.
In addition, when demand for PCR tests exceeds capacity, RATs may be provided to people who present for a PCR test at a public clinic, for them to utilise as their test, later in their isolation period, or at Day 7 ahead of coming out of self-isolation.
Rapid Antigen Tests used in Perth and South West hospital emergency departments
WA public hospital emergency departments (ED) will bolster their COVID-safe measures by screening patients using RATs before they enter.
This new measure is an additional way hospital staff can screen patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been to a known exposure location.