7 Mar 2022

Aim is for 90% of people to access RAT within 20 minute drive - MOH

6:40 pm on 7 March 2022

The Ministry of Health is increasing its number of rapid antigen test collection sites, aiming for 90 percent of the population to be able to collect pre-ordered tests within a 20 minute drive.

Covid-19 antigen tests underway with the buffer solution being dripped into the test area of the results strip

Photo: 123RF

Free rapid antigen tests are available for home testing if you are symptomatic or a household contact.

Anyone meeting this criteria can request RAT tests online and visit a collection site to pick them up.

On Saturday, 34,000 RAT orders were placed through the website.

The ministry has been setting up more collection points for the tests across some of the country's biggest cities to meet demand.

Covid-19 Health System Response deputy chief executive Bridget White said there were at present 300 sites people could collect rapid antigen tests and more were being planned for this week.

On Sunday, 3.5 million tests were sent to collection sites, with a further 8 million tests arriving in the country over the weekend.

"To facilitate access in Christchurch, a large scale community testing centre will be up and running at the Christchurch Arena from today, the Wellington region will have an additional collection site stood up from Tuesday, and Palmerston North will have three additional sites this week," White said.

"On top of the collection sites, some DHBs are delivering RATs to parts of the community who are unable to easily get to a collection site while others are distributing through community providers."

Thursday saw the greatest demand for RATs within a 24 hour period, with 1.5 million tests given out. The ministry said demand since then had levelled out.

"There is ample supply of RATs in the country. We urge people to be patient and make sure they both need a test and are going to the right places to get one," White said.

"We ask New Zealanders to be patient with staff at testing centres. They are working as hard as they can. Abusive or aggressive behaviour does not help anyone and may force centres to close due to health and safety reasons."

Drive-through only services and home delivery of tests were being considered by the ministry.

RATs were available for purchase in some retail stores for people who were not unwell or household contacts but wanted a RAT for other reasons.

More than 47,000 RAT results were reported yesterday, including 16,625 positive results.

The ministry urged people to self-report RAT results, whether negative or positive and regardless of whether someone in your household has already reported theirs.

"The self-reporting of RATs helps provide a clearer picture of how the pandemic is progressing. It is essential we have as much information as possible to inform public health decision-making."

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