4 Mar 2024

Household contacts no longer recommended to test daily for Covid, unless symptomatic

9:45 am on 4 March 2024
hands introducing nasal swab of covid antigen test into liquid in foreground

Photo: 123rf.com

Household contacts of someone positive for Covid-19 are no longer recommended to test daily, unless they develop symptoms themselves.

Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora confirmed the previously recommended advice of testing for five days consecutively was changing.

Only household contacts who developed one or more symptoms were recommended to stay at home and RAT test, it said.

"This change in advice for household contacts aligns with broader public health guidance that advises RAT testing is generally not recommended unless a person has Covid-19 symptoms," said National Public Health Service director of protection Becky Jenkins.

"This is because a person who is symptomatic will get a more reliable RAT result."

The health agency advised that if a person tested negative with a RAT but their Covid-19 symptoms persisted, they should continue to stay at home and test again in 24 and 48 hours.

If someone returned a positive result, it was recommended that they isolated for at least five days, starting at Day 0 - even if they only had mild symptoms and they have had Covid-19 before.

Health NZ confirmed earlier this year that free RATs would be available free until at least the end of June.

"With Covid-19 still circulating in the community and continuing to impact hospital admission rates, testing for Covid-19 with RATs remains an important tool to help manage the spread of Covid-19 and reduce the impact on our health system and our communities," said Jenkins.

"We strongly encourage people to make the most of the continued free access to RATs, and to keep testing if they feel unwell or think they may have Covid-19."

Participating RAT collection sites can be found at www.healthpoint.co.nz or by calling free on 0800 222 478 and choosing option 1.

No decisions have been made regarding the supply of RATs beyond June 2024.

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