Push to mandate rapid test reporting

Maeve Bannister |

Rapid antigen testing is quickly becoming the main way of detecting new COVID-19 cases in most jurisdictions, yet reporting requirements are different depending on where you live. 

This week NSW will move into a dual reporting system for infections that includes positive, self-administered RAT results – reported through the ServiceNSW app – and PCR results.

The NSW government has reportedly sought advice on how mandatory reporting of positive RAT results could be legally enforced or at least made an obligation via the app.

Founder of testing company AusDiagnostics Keith Stanley told Sky News RATs were a “bandaid solution” and expected there would be a return to PCR testing which is more accurate.

He said while rapid tests solved the issue of laboratories being overwhelmed by PCR testing demand there were issues with regulation.

“The rapid antigen tests that we’re supplying are over 95 per cent sensitive – that’s in the highest category the TGA have looked at – but some are only 90 per cent or 85 per cent sensitive, so there are a lot of variables,” he said.  

Meanwhile Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Terrritory have already introduced mandatory reporting for positive rapid tests, although it is not legally enforced. 

People who test positive must fill out a form on the relevant jurisdiction’s website which allows the government to track the number of cases in the community. 

Public health officials can then contact people with information on managing their illness. 

Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd says most people can manage the virus at home and did not need to report a positive RAT result to their GP. 

He said unvaccinated people, those over 65, people who are immunosuppressed or have a chronic disease and pregnant women should let their GP know if they test positive. 

“Very importantly, if people develop symptoms where they have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or feeling faint, they are serious symptoms and they will need to call triple zero,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. 

In the ACT, a RAT reporting system is expected to be launched within the week. 

In the meantime, people with a positive result have been asked to record the date it was positive and complete the online form when it is available. 

On Monday, Western Australia lifted the ban on RATs but has not introduced a means for people to report positive results, instead encouraging PCR testing.