After concerns of price gouging by some retailers and to make it more convenient for people to access rapid antigen tests (RATs), the Ministry of Health has announced launch of a new RAT requester site website.
From today, you will be able to order free RAT kits for home testing if you – or any member of your household, are symptomatic. You will need access to a mobile phone so you can validate your order through this new website. After ordering, you can pick up RATs from a collection point near you.
Once you have placed your order, you will be given an order number to present at one of the community testing and RATs collection centres.
There are measures in place on this website that stops people from ordering more than required numbers.
This new tool will help reduce queues at the testing centres and there is a range of testing centres across the country from where these kits can be picked up.
Free RAT home testing kits can also be requested by a free call at 0800 222 478 option 3.
Eligible people can, however, still get free tests done at Community Testing Centres.
“It’s one of a range of ways we are make testing more readily available for those who need it,” says Jo Pugh, Acting Group Manager of COVID-19 Testing and Supply.
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“The ability to place an order online ensures that the process is smoother when people go to collect them. It also means that the whole whānau don’t need to queue up at the testing centre when one person in the household gets sick, because you’ll be able to collect RATs for everyone in your household,” says Jo Pugh.
“People can still access free RATs without an order via Community Testing Centres, but only for an eligible individual.
“RATs are also available for purchase in some retail stores now for people who are not unwell or household contacts but want a RAT for other reasons.
Several retailers quickly ran out of stock,including The Warehouse, and Consumer NZ also raised serious concerns about price gouging by some retailers. Prices ranged from $6.33 to $15 or more per test kit.
“The website also contains features to prevent people from ordering too many RATs to ensure that everyone who needs one can get one. These include order limits by address and phone number.”
There are 146 collection sites, 106 testing centres, and 21 providers supporting our priority population groups nationwide. And with the addition of participating pharmacies and GPs, there are now more than 500 access points for RATs, with additional sites continuing to be opened across the motu.
Jo Pugh says GPs will also be using RATs as part of clinical consultations, where appropriate. They will not generally be distributing to the public outside this regime.
‘By the end of March, we expect to build up the number of places where RATs are available to 1000 sites around the country, so the majority of New Zealanders can access a free RAT within 20 minutes driving distance.
Increased use of RATs is also expected to ease some of the pressure on testing laboratories over the next three to six weeks.