Te Whatu Ora buys more RATs, will stay free until end of June

Covid-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) will be available free until at least the end of June.

The current national supply of RATs was due to run out in February, with a question mark over whether the government would pay for more.

But Health Minister Shane Reti on Wednesday said Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ would purchase 5 million more to distribute for free.

“These free RATs will be available through the established national network of distribution providers, comprising of health providers and some pharmacies.”

He would take advice from officials about whether the RATs would be funded after that, noting that many other countries no longer had widespread free Covid-19 testing.

Dr Shane Reti

“This approach will ensure New Zealand continues to have good stocks of tests available as we enter winter,” Reti said.

The extra tests will paid for out of existing budgets for Covid-19 services. So far during the pandemic, 125 million RATs have been distributed for free across Aotearoa.

“No decisions have been made regarding the supply of RATs beyond June 2024,” Nick Chamberlain, head of the National Public Health Service, said.

“We strongly encourage people to make the most of the continued free access, and to keep testing if they feel unwell or think they may have Covid-19. We also encourage them to report their RAT result, as confirmation of a positive result enables people to be connected with any help and support they might need and provides vital insight on the number of active Covid-19 cases across the country.”

After rising post-Christmas, the daily number of infections in New Zealand has begun trending downwards.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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