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Covid-19: Shipment of 10 million rapid antigen tests due over weekend

Feb 25, 2022

A large shipment of 10 million rapid antigen tests (RATs) is arriving over the weekend.

The government has orders in place for 180 million rapid antigen tests over the next six months. 

This is in addition to 5.2m tests that arrived over the past two days, and will bring the country's total stock to 22m by Monday.

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said Covid-19 case numbers were expected to hit 10,000 a day "very soon," and RATs would increasingly become the primary testing method in the community.

"Users who take a RAT will get their results within 20 minutes which will help identify cases sooner, reduce testing wait times and minimise disruption to business and ensure critical services and infrastructure workforce can continue to keep New Zealand operating," she said.

Additional tests will be shipped to community testing centres, GPs and pharmacies around the country.

Businesses who need them as part of the Close Contact Exemption Scheme will also be able to access them.

The government has orders in place for 180m RATs over the next six months.

From March, members of the public will also be able to buy RATs from private retailers.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said further details will be provided by the end of the week.

Although use of the tests will become much more widespread, Verrall said PCR tests would still be available in certain circumstances.

In phase three of the government's Omicron response, PCR tests would be used in hospitals and aged residential care facilities, and GPs could order a PCR if they thought it was necessary, Verrall said.

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