Testing for COVID-19

If you have cold or flu symptoms, you should get tested. Find out more about the types of tests available, how to get tested and what to do while you wait for your result.

You should get tested as soon as possible if you have even the mildest cold or flu symptoms. Early diagnosis means you can avoid spreading the virus to someone else.

Different states and territories have different requirements for close contacts of people with COVID-19. If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, visit your state or territory health department website to see what rules apply to you.

Check your symptoms

  You can find translated information about when you should get tested for COVID-19 in over 60 languages.

Types of COVID-19 tests

There are 2 types of test that can detect if you have the COVID-19 virus:

  1. polymerase chain reaction (PCR, or RT-PCR)

  2. rapid antigen self-tests (RATs).

Find out more from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) about how COVID-19 testing works.

When to get tested

You should attend a walk-in or drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic if you: 

  • have COVID-19 symptoms
  • are a close contact of someone who has tested positive
  • have been advised to do so by a health professional.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms you can have unlimited tests (rapid antigen or PCR) at a COVID-19 testing clinic. Isolate at home until you receive your result.

You do not need to get a COVID-19 test if you:

  • do not have symptoms
  • are seeking treatment in a public hospital
  • are travelling to the ACT, NSW, SA or Vic. 

Where to get tested

You can get tested at a COVID-19 clinic in your area:

Use the Health Direct Service Finder to find your nearest testing clinic.

You can also purchase RATs from some supermarkets and retail outlets for private use.

Accessing free rapid antigen tests

From 24 January, you can access free RATs if you hold an eligible Commonwealth concession card:

  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
  • Department of Veteran's Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Low Income Health Card
  • Pensioner Concession Card.

You can access up to 10 RATs over a 3 month period (max 5 over a 1 month period) through community pharmacies.

How to do a rapid antigen test

How to do a rapid antigen test (RAT)
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Rapid antigen testing – concessional access program

The COVID-19 Rapid Test Concessional Access Program (CRTCA) is a temporary program which provides people with valid, eligible Commonwealth concession cards access to up to 20 free rapid antigen tests.

You will need to attend a participating community pharmacy in person and present your Commonwealth concession card.

You will need to give consent to the pharmacy to record your concession card details. The pharmacy will check and confirm your details, including whether RATs have already been provided to you.

The pharmacy will give you a minimum of 2 RATs for each eligible individual. You can ask for up to the monthly limit of RATs per eligible individual at any time, subject to availability.

RATs will be increasingly available from pharmacies in the coming weeks. Phone ahead of your visit to check that they are participating in the free RATs program and have any in stock.

Free RATs are only available to eligible concession card holders through participating community pharmacies.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms do not attend a pharmacy to collect RATs. Go directly to a testing centre.

If you test positive

If your rapid antigen or PCR test returns a positive result you must isolate at home. 

If you took a PCR test your local health department will contact you. 

If you took a rapid antigen test you must let health authorities know. 

Follow your local health advice to register as a COVID-19 positive case:

Follow our guidance on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19.

If you test negative

If your rapid antigen or PCR test returns a negative result you do not need to isolate.

Last updated: 
12 May 2022

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