26 March 2022
RAT - Rapid Antigen Tests
Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are the main testing method being used now for people with COVID-19 symptoms or who are a Household Contact. Results take about 15 minutes.
Note that Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are still being used in some situations. Results take between 2 and 5 days. A health professional can advise you on the right test to take in your situation.
RAT tests are available for purchase from chemists, supermarkets and stores like the Warehouse.
How do use a RAT test
Test instructions vary depending on the brand. Many rapid antigen testing kits follow the instructions below, but not all.
If you’re unsure - follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Understanding the results
If it is positive
If you get a positive test result, you must self-isolate immediately and follow the advice for people who have COVID-19.
Your test result does not need to be confirmed with a PCR unless advised.
If it is negative
If you get a negative test result and do not have symptoms, it is likely you do not have COVID-19.
If you have symptoms, stay at home and carry out another RAT the following day. If your symptoms get worse, contact your local healthcare provider or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
It is possible for someone with COVID-19 to get a negative RAT result. This can be because there was not enough virus in the sample, or because the test was not carried out correctly.
If the test fails or is indeterminate
If a result is failed or indeterminate, you must take another RAT. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long to wait between tests.
Reporting the results
Whether positive or negative, you should report the results of your RAT.You can do this online through My Covid Record or by calling the helpline.