Australia to allow overseas arrivals with Covid-19 rapid antigen test

The rapid antigen test (RAT) must be done under the supervision of a medical practitioner - including pharmacists or trained personnel at authorised airport testing stations. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Australia will allow international air travellers to enter the country if they provide results from a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure.

Such a test must be undertaken by or under the supervision of a medical practitioner, including pharmacists or trained personnel at an authorised airport testing station, the Ministry of Health said on its website on Saturday (Jan 22) in Sydney. The change is effective from 1am on Sunday.

Until now, any incoming traveller needed to provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within three days of departure, creating the risk a person may get infected after the test and before embarking.

In addition, the global spread of Omicron has dramatically increased the demand for PCR testing, which has impacted access for those wanting pre-departure certification.

"This change will make it easier for Australians to return home," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a televised news conference. "It recognises the global reality of a more infectious but less severe strain and the challenge that it has created internationally in terms of access to PCR tests."

A negative PCR test result will continue to be accepted, the ministry said.

In addition, the government will allow people who provide verification that they have recovered from Covid-19 to travel seven days after their positive test, down from 14 days, the ministry said.

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