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Waitaki residents now have more options for accessing rapid antigen tests (Rats).

There are now five collection sites in Waitaki where people can pick up pre-requested Rat tests — Oamaru Pharmacy, Unichem Northend Pharmacy, Kurow Medical Centre, and East Otago Health and Waihemo Pharmacy in Palmerston.

Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms, or is a household contact of a Covid-positive case, can order Rats through the Ministry of Health’s Rat requester website, or by ringing 0800 222-478. An order number is provided for the collection of the tests, and enough will be provided for the person ordering, and their household, to take three tests each.

WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said creating a network of collection sites and supporting the distribution of the Rat testing kits had been in the works for months.

‘‘This has been a big piece of work that’s been going on in the background while our testing teams have also been supporting and delivering PCR testing in the community,’’ Mr Swanson-Dobbs said.

‘‘Having testing as accessible as possible is important for helping detect the virus and reduce its spread. Health providers in the region will continue to do all we can to help in the Omicron response.’’

At Phase 3 of the Omicron response, Rats are the primary method of testing for the virus in the community. Negative and positive Rat results should be registered through My Covid Record or by calling 0800 222-478 and pressing option 3. This helps monitor the size of Omicron’s spread and ensures people have access to the appropriate care and support when they need it.

WellSouth director of nursing Wendy Findlay said the organisation was ‘‘very grateful’’ pharmacies and general practices across the Southern district had taken on the extra responsibility to help their communities.

‘‘To no-one’s surprise, pharmacies, general practices and other agencies in Southern are going out of their way to do their part helping people access Covid Rat tests,’’ she said.

‘‘We also appreciate that so many people in the community are getting tested when they have symptoms.’’

Covid-19 testing

  • People need to meet Ministry of Health testing criteria to pre-order and collect Rats. Anyone who does not meet testing criteria can buy tests at some pharmacies and retail outlets if, for example, they want to take a test before visiting a relative.
  • If you are unwell, even with minor symptoms such as a runny nose or slightly sore throat, do a Rat test. Even if it is negative, stay home until you are symptom-free.
  • If a household member tests positive for Covid, isolate at home and get tested (Day 3 and Day 7 if you’re asymptomatic, and immediately if you develop symptoms).
  • PCR swabbing and supervised Rat testing is available through community testing centres and many general practices for healthcare workers, for individuals who cannot self-administer or register their own Rat tests and when public health or a hospital doctor has asked for PCR test — for pre-admission, for example.
  • A PCR test is not required to confirm a positive Rat case. A positive Rat test is a positive Covid case.
  • For information on accessing testing in the Southern district, visit the WellSouth website wellsouth.nz/community/covid-19/ or call 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847-8719).
  • It is important to register both negative and positive Rat results through My Covid Record or by calling 0800 222-478 and pressing option 3. This helps monitor the size of Omicron’s spread and ensures you have access to the appropriate care and support when you need it.
  • Checkthe HealthPoint website for up-to-date collection sites and hours. Some of the sites may change and HealthPoint will be updated

Source: WellSouth