The Australian government has released information on COVID-19 testing from 1 January 2023.
Testing is an important part of limiting the spread of the infection and getting the right care and treatment to people who need it.
Read on for everything you need to know about COVID-19 testing in 2023.
COVID-19 testing if you are high-risk
PCR testing is prioritised for people who are more at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 infection. This is so they can get the right treatment in a timely manner.
This group of people includes:
- Older people
- First Nations people
- People living with a disability
- People from communities that are linguistically and culturally diverse
- People who live in remote communities
- People with complex health conditions
- People who are immunocompromised
So if you or a loved one fits into these categories, you can get a free PCR test at your nearest state COVID-19 testing clinic or site.
You won’t need a request from your healthcare professional to access these tests.
This is where you can find a testing clinic near you:
If there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 in a residential aged care home, testing will be available for residents.
First Nations peoples and those living in remote communities will have access to the Point-of-Care Testing program. This tests not just for COVID-19 but also for influenza A, influenza B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
If you’re at high risk, it’s advisable to create a plan with your primary care provider in case you fall sick. This will help you get fast and effective treatment — for example, antiviral medication.
COVID-19 testing if you are low-risk
If you are at a lower risk, then you are encouraged to use a rapid antigen test (RAT) if you have COVID-19 or respiratory symptoms.
These tests are simple to use at home and will give you an accurate result within minutes.
If your test is positive, stay at home if possible. If you have to leave home, wear a face mask and avoid mixing with high-risk people.
You can treat minor symptoms at home by taking over-the-counter pain relief medication, using a thermometer to monitor your temperature, drinking plenty of fluids and resting.
If your symptoms get worse, consult your general practitioner (GP) or other primary care provider.
And if you test negative on a RAT but live or work with people at high risk of serious illness, you should get a PCR test through your GP if your symptoms continue.
Taking a COVID-19 home test is also advised if you are planning to go somewhere where there will be people at high risk, even if you don’t have symptoms. This could be a residential aged care home, for example. This action will help stop the spread of infection in the community.
How can I protect myself and my community from COVID-19?
The coronavirus is still present in Australia, so it’s important to take steps to reduce its spread.
You can avoid infection by:
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Using hand sanitiser in between washing your hands
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and throwing tissues away and washing your hands immediately
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces like worktops and door handles in your home
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Practising physical distancing by staying 1.5 metres away from others
- Wearing a mask in crowded environments
- Staying at home if you have symptoms and taking a test
Keeping Australia healthy!
Testing is an important part of monitoring the spread of COVID-19, limiting infection and being able to get the right care at the right time.
If you are low-risk, you can use a COVID-19 home test if you have symptoms or are planning on going somewhere with people at higher risk of severe disease.
And if you are in one of the vulnerable groups, you can go to your GP or one of the testing clinics near you.
To keep yourself and others around you safe, make sure you have hand sanitiser available to use between washing your hands and a supply of face masks too.
All these items and more well-being products like home testing kits are available in the FeverMates collection — packed with products to keep Australia healthy!