Testing for COVID-19

When should I test for COVID-19?

You should test for COVID-19 if you have symptoms (common symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, nasal congestion and sneezing).

It is especially important to test early if you are at higher risk of severe illness or you are eligible for oral antiviral treatment, or you are in contact with or work with people who are at higher risk or eligible for antiviral treatment.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms but test negative, stay at home until your acute symptoms have cleared (usually 5 to 7 days).

Find more information about managing COVID-19 at home.

Which COVID-19 test should I use?

You should use a rapid antigen test if you are at low risk of severe COVID-19 illness but have symptoms.

Consider doing a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) if you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness.

Most people can do a rapid antigen test (RAT) at home. You should only use a test that has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). More detailed information on rapid antigen tests can be found on the TGA website.

PCR testing is recommended for people with COVID-19 symptoms who test negative using a RAT who are:

If you test positive using a RAT, your result does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test.

You need a GP referral to have PCR testing at select dedicated  SA Pathology sites and private pathology providers.

How do I access RATs?

Rapid antigen tests are available for purchase at pharmacies. Eligible people can access five free rapid antigen tests from RAT collection points. Free rapid antigen tests are available for:

  • people with disability or who are immunocompromised
  • a carer of someone with disability or who is immunocompromised
  • eligible Concession Card holders (including Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and Department of Veterans Affairs Concession Card)

When accessing RATs you will be required to wear a mask and show your eligible concession card. You do not need to pre-register.

Avoid attending if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

My rapid antigen test (RAT) is positive, what do I need to do?

See the What to do if I have COVID-19 page for what to do if you test positive.

Find a RAT collection point

Find a RAT collection point

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