Rapid antigen testing (RAT) for COVID-19

In South Australia, rapid antigen tests are now used as a test to diagnose COVID-19. This means that if you test positive using a rapid antigen test, your result does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test.

You must report a positive rapid antigen test result within 24 hours. Reporting your rapid antigen test result assists with providing an understanding of cases in the community and also helps you to identify if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatments.

When should I use a rapid antigen test?

If you are a close contact and have no COVID-19 symptoms, you must use rapid antigen tests to complete your required tests. You must test 5 times over a 7 day period.

If you are a close contact with no COVID-19 symptoms, you can access free rapid antigen tests from RAT Collection Points across the state. You must register before collecting your kits from the RAT Collection Point

You can also purchase and use rapid antigen tests:

  • before entering a high risk setting, e.g. healthcare or aged care
  • before going out where there may be crowds
  • before going to work, especially if it is a critical worksite
  • to provide reassurance if you have no symptoms but are feeling anxious or worried.

When should I get a standard PCR test?

You should get a PCR test as soon as you develop any COVID-19 symptoms. This applies to all people, including close contacts.

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • fever (a temperature of 37.5˚C or higher) or chills
  • cough
  • loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • runny or blocked nose
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pain
  • loss of appetite

If you are a close contact with no COVID-19 symptoms, you can also get a PCR test.

You must get a PCR test if you are directed to by SA Health or SA Police.

You must also get a PCR test if you have COVID-19 symptoms and test negative using a rapid antigen test to confirm your result.

Reporting your result

If you test positive using a rapid antigen test, you must report your result within 24 hours. You must report your positive result if you get your test through a designated RAT Collection Point, from a retail outlet or through any other means.

Report your result using this online form.

If you don’t have a mobile phone with internet access, you can report your result by calling the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787.

You can also report negative and invalid test results using the online form to help provide a full picture of rates of COVID-19 testing in the state.

Understanding your result

Positive result

If you test positive in a rapid antigen test, this is considered a case. You do not need to get a PCR test to confirm your result.

You must:

  • report your result within 24 hours
  • isolate for 7 days from the day you had a positive result
  • notify your close contacts that you have tested positive.

Read more information about what to do if you test positive to COVID-19.

Negative result

If you are a close contact with no COVID-19 symptoms and test negative, you do not need to get a PCR test to confirm your result.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test negative, you must get a PCR test to confirm your result. Rapid antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests, which means that just because you have a negative result in a rapid antigen test, it does not mean that you do not have COVID-19.

You can report your negative rapid antigen test result online using the online form.

Invalid result

If you get an invalid result, you must do another rapid antigen test.

If you don’t have access to another rapid antigen test, get a PCR test at a COVID-19 testing site.

You can report your invalid rapid antigen test result online using the online form.

Do I need a PCR test to confirm my RAT result?

PCR test table
Your situation Your RAT result Do I need a PCR test?
I am a close contact Positive No
I have symptoms Positive No
I am a close contact with no COVID-19 symptoms Negative No
I am a close contact with symptoms Negative Yes
I have COVID-19 symptoms, but no known contact Negative Yes
I have no COVID-19 symptoms and no known contact Negative No
I have no COVID-19 symptoms and no known contact Positive PCR test recommended. You are still likely to have COVID-19. Stay isolated until negative PCR result received.

Accessing rapid antigen tests

If you are a close contact with no COVID-19 symptoms, you can access free rapid antigen tests from RAT Collection Points across the state. You must register before collecting your kits from the RAT Collection Point.

If you are not a close contact, rapid antigen tests are sold commercially in supermarkets and pharmacies.

Find a SA Health RAT Collection point

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Concession access RAT program

Eligible concession card holders can access free rapid antigen tests from participating pharmacies. People can access 10 free rapid antigen tests over a three month period, but no more than five in a one month period.

Find more information about the Concessional access RAT program on the Services Australia website.

How do I use a rapid antigen test?

There are different self-test kits available. Follow the instructions provided with the test.
All tests are for single use only. This means you can only use each test once. Do not use a test more than once or try to use one test on multiple people.

Read more instructions and information for using the InnoScreen rapid antigen test (PDF 115KB).

Can rapid antigen tests be used on children?

Rapid antigen tests should not be used on children under 2.

Children under 12 years of age should be tested by an adult. Do not conduct this test and get a PCR test if you do not feel confident testing a child.

Adolescents aged 12 to 17 years can test themselves and report with adult supervision. An adult may conduct the test as necessary.

You can report a positive result on behalf of another person, however, you must provide their information.

What kind of rapid antigen test should I use?

For your own safety you should only use a self-test kit that has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA website has a list of all home use tests approved by the TGA, along with manufacturer’s instructions for the test.

A consumer fact sheet is available on the TGA website.

More detailed information on rapid antigen self-tests can be found on the TGA website.

How do I store and dispose of rapid antigen tests?

Store the test kit in a cool and dry space. Refer to the test kit instructions.

Disposal will vary according to information provided with the test instructions. Some tests come with a plastic bag to dispose of the content (including the swab).

If no bags are provided, place the used items from the test into a small plastic bag that can be sealed.

Test kit materials are not recyclable.

Wash your hands carefully before and after using the test and disposing of the test kit contents.

Information for business and industry

Rapid antigen tests are being used in many businesses and industries as a workplace surveillance tool to screen people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms.

Read more on Rapid antigen testing information for industry.

Translated resources

Translated instructions and information for using the InnoScreen rapid antigen test.