From 1st December 2021, following the completion of the business trial, MBIE are handing management of the next phase of the roll out to the wider business sector to MoH. Rapid antigen tests, often abbreviated ‘RAT’, are generally taken with a front of nose swab and detect the presence of specific proteins on the outer portion of the virus, such as the spike protein. RAT require a higher quantity of the virus to be present in the sample than other COVID‑19 testing methods. As a result, RATs are less sensitive at detecting cases, especially in asymptomatic people or people who are early in their infectious period.
The Ministry is taking a phased roll-out to rapid antigen testing to ensure that public health surveillance and business health and safety measures through testing are appropriate. We also need to ensure that infrastructure related to reporting of rapid antigen tests is in place across settings. The approach will need to be supported by clinical and public health advice.
There are currently three rapid antigen tests authorised for import and supply under the COVID-19 Public Health Response 2020 (Point of Care) Order (the Order). These have been evaluated by Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and approved for supply to the Ministry of Health for use by authorised users.
Health and Safety
Small businesses who choose to use RATs need to follow Healthy and Safety guidance:
[Updated 24 Feb, 2022]