Govt extends free access to Covid tests

Experts are calling for more reliance on rapid antigen tests in the event of an Omicron outbreak....
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The government has bought more than 9 million rapid antigen tests (Rats), and is extending free public access to them until the end of September.

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti made the announcement in a press release today.

“I’m pleased to confirm that Health New Zealand will purchase a further 9.25 million Rats. Rat testing is still an important method to support eligible people to access antiviral medications and reduce the impact of Covid-19 on hospital admission rates."

In January, Reti said free Rats would be available until the end of June. Today’s announcement extends that availability for another three months.

“Many other countries have ceased the distribution of free Rats; however, this approach ensures New Zealand has a good supply of tests available through to the end of winter.”

Costs for the purchase of the new Rats were being met using existing funding for Covid-19 services, he said 

Health New Zealand received $231.152 million over four years from a Budget 2024 allocation to support ongoing Covid-19 preparedness, with $192.912 million for delivery of vaccines and PCR processing.