NZ Extends Free Access to COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests Until Sept 2024

Dr. Reti emphasized the importance of RAT testing in facilitating access to antiviral medications and reducing the impact of COVID-19 on hospital admissions.


Devdiscourse News Desk | Wellington | Updated: 06-06-2024 12:28 IST | Created: 06-06-2024 12:28 IST
NZ Extends Free Access to COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests Until Sept 2024
Health New Zealand received $231.152 million over four years from the Budget 2024 allocation to support ongoing COVID-19 preparedness.
  • Country:
  • New Zealand

Health Minister Dr. Shane Reti has announced that New Zealand will continue to provide free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) to the public until 30 September 2024, ensuring ongoing support for testing throughout the winter.

“In January, we announced an extension of public access to free RATs until the end of June. I’m pleased to confirm that Health New Zealand will purchase a further 9.25 million RATs, which will now see free public access continue until 30 September 2024,” said Dr. Reti.

Dr. Reti emphasized the importance of RAT testing in facilitating access to antiviral medications and reducing the impact of COVID-19 on hospital admissions. “Many other countries have ceased the distribution of free RATs; however, this approach ensures New Zealand has a good supply of tests available through to the end of winter,” he stated.

The costs for purchasing the new RATs will be covered by existing funding for COVID-19 services. “With a recent spike in case numbers, the Government remains focused on ensuring New Zealanders stay safe this winter, and funding confirmed through the Budget helps provide that assurance,” Dr. Reti added.

Health New Zealand received $231.152 million over four years from the Budget 2024 allocation to support ongoing COVID-19 preparedness. This includes $192.912 million for the delivery of vaccines and PCR processing.

“Our Government is committed to ensuring ongoing timely access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics for people who are at greater risk of serious illness. COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone aged 5 and over. They are also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness if they were to get COVID-19. COVID-19 antivirals also remain free and available for people with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” Dr. Reti explained.

Additionally, the Budget provides $38.240 million to maintain pandemic surveillance, including wastewater testing and whole genome sequencing.

“With this range of measures, New Zealanders can feel confident that the Government continues to support them in keeping safe from COVID-19,” Dr. Reti concluded.

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