The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
The Australian Government is providing COVID-19 rapid antigen testing (RAT) to residential aged care facilities in Greater Sydney, to further protect aged care residents, workers and their families.
The program will begin on Monday, 16 August at the Uniting Bankstown Aged Care Facility, and then progressively roll out to other facilities who expressed their interest in participating.
Respond Global has been selected to lead the program, providing the residential aged care facilities with training and protocols in using the tests and recording the RAT results.
Roche will supply the initial RAT, after being selected through a competitive tender process. It is anticipated that as the program expands, three more RAT suppliers will also supply their tests for use.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the program will allow fast COVID-19 screening of aged care residents and visitors to be done on-site and more regularly.
“Given the rate at which we know the Delta variant can be spread between people, the very fast turnaround of RAT – around 15 minutes – makes these tests useful in preventing asymptomatic transmission and outbreaks as they can be used on a daily basis,” Minister Hunt said.
“Sadly, the pandemic’s toll in Australia last year was highest among aged care residents. That is why, along with the increased infection control training and vaccinations, we are looking at further innovations such as RAT to provide an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable Australians.”
We anticipate that regular use of RAT to screen aged care employees and visitors will provide much greater reassurance for those employees, their managers, residents, and families.
Those workers or visitors who test positive to a RAT or who have COVID-19 symptoms would then not go into the residential aged care facility and be required to have a PCR diagnostic test as soon as possible to confirm their COVID-19 status.
This initial program expands on a trial already undertaken at the Whiddon Residential Aged Care Facility in Glenfield. One of the key findings of this trial was that it gave workers more confidence that they were safe to come to work and were not putting themselves, their fellow workers and the residents at risk.
To date, more than 577,655 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in aged care and disability care facilities across Australia.