- New registration system for people to report their positive RAT result
- Part of implementation of previously announced new high caseload settings
- PCR testing prioritised, with use of RATs as a diagnostic tool to manage demand
- Register positive results at www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/ratregister or phone 13 COVID
In addition to PCR testing, Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) will be used as a diagnostic tool for COVID-19 with a compulsory registration system for positive test results, in line with health advice for high caseload settings.
It comes as Western Australia begins to experience a high caseload environment and new protocols, announced last month, will be introduced across the State from tomorrow, Tuesday February 8, 2022.
While a RAT provides a quick result and is useful in a high caseload environment, the State 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.
The State Government is distributing RATs to all public COVID-19 testing clinics for WA Health to utilise if demand for PCR tests reaches a peak.
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.
People who have self-administered a RAT test for COVID-19 at home or in the workplace and tested positive must register their result online with the Department of Health at www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/ratregister
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; and
- 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 to best manage the situation, including whether healthcare is needed, and provide advice on what to do next.
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 demonstrates how to take a test.
There are two types of Rapid Antigen Tests:
- saliva test - user spits into a tube or sucks on a swab; and
- 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 extracts the virus from samples); and
- instructions for use.
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; or
- recommended by the Department of Health.
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.
Registered cases part of the new virtual health monitoring, WA COVID Care at Home, are also required to register their positive Rapid Antigen Tests as part of their program.
WA COVID Care at Home, which started on Monday January 31, allows COVID-19 positive patients to enrol based on risk factors. These patients will continue receiving regular contact from the healthcare team to check their vital health signs and welfare. They will also monitor their general wellbeing, which is via phone or telehealth.
RATs are currently being rolled out at Perth and South-West public hospital emergency departments as an additional way hospital staff can screen patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been to a known exposure location.
People will face a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for failing to register a positive RAT test self-administered at home.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"Our current settings have kept us safe and allowed WA to live without COVID for so long, but with the fast spreading Omicron in our community we are ready to adjust our settings in line with what we announced last month.
"As we said, when WA experiences high caseloads, Rapid Antigen Tests will be utilised to help manage demand at testing clinics and give people a fast method of detecting COVID.
"WA is fortunate to have high levels of COVID-19 vaccinations in the community as it means that most people are expected to experience mild symptoms and will be able to recover in their homes and the use of RATs become more convenient and beneficial."
Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
"PCR testing remains the recommended testing method in Western Australia as we still have plenty of capacity in our testing clinics, but now that we have community transmission here, there are times when it will be appropriate to take a Rapid Antigen Test and register your result.
"It is vital anyone who does a RAT and receives a positive result registers their test with WA Health.
"This will ensure the important public health protocols that have kept us safe throughout the pandemic can continue to be followed.
"Together, since the start of the pandemic, Western Australians have shown we are an adaptable bunch and I have no doubt the community will get behind this registration process."
Premier's office - 6552 5000
Health Minister's office - 6552 5900