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Clearing up confusion: what to do after returning a positive rapid test

A health worker shows a positive SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test from the Swiss multinational healthcare company Source: KEYSTONE

While supply issues continue to affect the availability of rapid antigen tests across Australia, for those who do test positive new guidelines have come into place about what to do next. Revised guidelines announced by National Cabinet now confirm those who get a positive result from a rapid antigen test will no longer be required to get a PCR test.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says people who do test positive on a rapid antigen test and have mild symptoms, will now be able to get support at home from their GP through the telehealth system.

"The most important call to make is to your doctor. Case numbers are less of an issue, it is connecting to care that is the issue. The Commonwealth provides telehealth support people to be able to do that and get advice on how they can manage their infection at home and, should matters escalate, to seek further assistance. So what matters first is that people who have COVID, the care that they get connected to."

Positive cases will still be required to isolate for seven days and inform close contacts.

Each state and territory has a choice in how they implement the latest advice from the National Cabinet on rapid antigen testing with the rules evolving across the country along with the pandemic with the Prime Minister adding it may take several weeks for state and territories to finalise reporting guidelines. 

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely says he understands the changes are about easing pressure on overwhelmed clinics.

But along with tests being in short supply, he's also concerned surveillance of COVID in the community will no longer be as accurate if results are not being reported to state and territory governments.

"It would be much better to have that rapid antigen testing loaded up into a surveillance system to give better data. What we do know well, what we do think is that a New South Wales with 35,000 that's a gross under estimate. It's probably five times as much as that or somewhere around that, which means you're experiencing somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 infections per day, which is a lot - it takes your breath away. But also, it's kind of good news too, because the Doherty modelling leaked before Christmas suggested that New South Wales would peak at 200,000 infections per day. So it would suggest that New South Wales is about to peak income down. So there is some good news in there."

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to this information in Punjabi.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://www.sbs.com.au/language/coronavirus

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