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International travellers urged to check Australia's list of approved RAT kits before buying overseas

Passengers arrive from their overseas flights and walk to the arrivals hall after landing at Sydney Airport. (file) Source: Getty Images for Sydney Airport/James D. Morgan)

Many Australian states and territories require international travellers to take rapid antigen tests within 24 hours of arrival and again on day 6.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration updated its approved list of rapid antigen tests, or RAT kits, for home use on 1 January. 


Highlights:

  • NSW Government advises returning travellers to buy only TGA-approved kits
  • Travellers are required to sign an Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) form 72 hours before departure
  • ATD mandates travellers to know the quarantine and testing requirements of each state and territory

The TGA has categorised the RAT kit suppliers according to three levels of clinical sensitivity - acceptable, high and very high. 

A Department of Health spokesperson told SBS Hindi that there are 18 self-tests approved for use in Australia as of 3 January.

"The purpose of the information is to advise prospective purchasers (individuals, pharmacies, retailers and wholesalers) which self-tests have been approved by the TGA and are thus legally able to be supplied in Australia," the spokesperson said.

Sydney-based Chartered Accountant Neha Bhuwania returned with her family from India on 2 January.
Sydney-based Chartered Accountant Neha Bhuwania returned with her family from India on 2 January.
Supplied by Neha Bhuwania

Chartered accountant Neha Bhuwania, who just arrived in Australia with her husband and their son, said they learnt about the TGA's list while transiting from New Delhi to Sydney on 2 January. 

"We had purchased our kits in Delhi as there was no prior information from the Australian government about these TGA approved kits. It was by coincidence that I learned about these test kits while browsing some travel groups on social media," Ms Bhuwania told SBS Hindi.

"On arrival, we had to ask our friends to procure these new approved RAT kits and drop them at our doorsteps. We didn't want to take a chance with Australian and New South Wales laws and end up paying fines for no fault of ours," she said. 

International travellers have shared their experience on Facebook.
International travellers have shared their experience on Facebook.
Facebook

Ms Bhuwania and her family took the RAT. They took pictures and videos of the negative test results in case they were asked to show the proof later. 

Ms Bhuwania said the Australian government and the New South Wales government have not asked them to upload the negative results on any portal or email them.

"The only thing the Australian government asks you is to sign the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) form," she said. 

The ATD, which international travellers must sign 72 hours before their departure, stipulates that travellers are aware of the quarantine and testing requirements in the landing state and penalties for non-compliance.  

A person failing to comply with the requirement could be fined $6,660 under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Ms Bhuwania said the rapidly changing situation has left travellers confused.

"I'm not sure if all international travellers coming into Australia are aware of the TGA-approved RAT kits. They can't go hunting for a kit as they must self isolate soon after landing in NSW," Ms Bhuwania said.  

She said her friends had a tough time procuring these kits due to the current shortage in the country. Ms Bhuwania said international travellers are not being supplied with such kits at the Sydney airport.

The NSW government also confirmed to SBS Hindi that no RAT kits are supplied to international arrivals at the airport. 

"The fast worldwide spread of Omicron - particularly during the festive season – has led to a global surge in demand for RAT kits," NSW Health said in a statement.

"The NSW Government has ordered 50 million kits to help boost the state's COVID-19 health response, with the first shipment expected later this month.

"NSW Health is now working with the Commonwealth on how its testing kits will be distributed across NSW. However, vulnerable communities will be a priority."

On Monday, the federal government said the states and territories have ordered 84 million test kits. 

SBS Hindi is waiting for the Victoria government reply on the same issue. 

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