Saturday, April 13, 2024

Three million RATs delivered to health staff

More than three million Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) have been distributed across New Zealand for workers who keep New Zealand’s critical services and supply chains moving, and those in our community most at risk from the effects of COVID-19, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said today.

The Director-General said the deliveries followed the opening of the Close Contact Exemption Scheme and the move to Phase 2 of the Omicron response strategy.

The RATs have been sent to sites including District Health Boards, Healthcare and Emergency Service workforces, testing facilities, GP clinics, aged care facilities and community health providers.

“The Ministry has also provided RATs directly to organisations, including businesses that are currently affected by outbreaks, to make it easier to test their workers who are contacts and keep their organisations running,” said Dr Bloomfield.

“Although there are still significant global supply constraints, we have secured the delivery of enough RATs to help New Zealand through a widespread Omicron outbreak in the coming months.”

There are currently 7.3 million RATs in the system with around 22.5 million expected by the end of the month, including 9.2 million due to arrive by the end of next week.

“On the first day of the scheme around 200 orders were received and we expect these numbers to go up rapidly which is why we will be scaling up in line with demand,” the Director-General said.

“There are collection sites in every DHB around the country, with nearly 100 collection sites ready to go across New Zealand. This number will increase in line with demand as cases rise during the outbreak and more critical workers become close contacts.”

He said the Ministry was also working with around 1,000 community health providers to help those who experience poorer outcomes, higher death rates and increased health, economic and social inequities from the effects of COVID-19.

“These providers have demonstrated in previous outbreaks that they can deliver local and regional approaches that help people access testing when they need it.”

“So if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms you should still contact your health provider to get a PCR test, and if you don’t have symptoms then you don’t need to get a test.

“It’s still important to keep up with the basic healthcare prevention measures – stay home if you’re sick, get a booster if it’s been three months since your second shot, wash your hands, wear your mask, scan in and maintain social distancing where possible,” Dr Bloomfield said. 

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