Rapid Antigen Testing

Rapid antigen tests are simple and fast, allowing NSW Health to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people. 

From 30 August, authorised workers from Local Government Areas (LGAs) of concern, who work outside their LGA, will only be permitted to work if they’ve had at least one dose of vaccine, or a rapid antigen test at their worksite.


It is a screening tool to help detect COVID-19 in people without any symptoms. It involves a nasal swab (using a small cotton bud) that is placed into a chemical solution. Results display in 15 to 20 minutes.

You must go to a regular testing clinic in your area to get the standard COVID-19 test (nose and throat swabs known as PCR tests) if you have symptoms of COVID-19.


All businesses who have authorised workers who live in a LGA of concern and travel outside their LGA of concern for work will need to:

  • confirm employees have received at least one dose of vaccine, or
  • confirm employees have been issued with a medical contraindication certificate, or
  • have employees undergo a rapid antigen test on site.

NSW Health has developed guidelines to help you.

Benefits of rapid antigen testing

Tests have been used in some Australian industries and internationally for some time to screen asymptomatic employees with no symptoms. They can be performed simply and onsite with results available quickly. However there are some limitations compared to tests performed at testing clinics:

Accuracy rate

Rapid antigen tests will detect most cases of COVID-19, but are not as accurate as the standard test (PCR). If you develop symptoms or are identified as a close or casual contact of someone who has COVID-19, you must get tested at a clinic and self isolate.

If you get a positive test result

If you get a positive rapid antigen test result, you must immediately get a standard COVID-19 test (PCR) at a specified NSW testing clinic to confirm the result of your screening test isolate until you get a negative result from NSW Health. Isolating immediately after your positive result, or if you have symptoms, can help break chains of transmission and limit the spread of COVID-19 at your workplace or school.

If you get a negative test result

Continue to follow the latest health advice and restrictions in your area. If you develop any symptoms, even if mild, you must immediately get a standard COVID-19 test and isolate until you get a negative result from NSW Health.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

You must get a standard COVID-19 test (PCR) at any COVID-19 testing clinic in NSW and isolate, including from your household members, until you receive a negative result. The only way to rule out COVID-19 is to have a standard test (PCR), even if you have only mild symptoms. 

Who can get rapid antigen tests?

Rapid antigen tests onsite in schools and certain workplaces are being supported by NSW Health in the initial rollout. Other employers and industries are also managing their own rapid antigen testing programs.

What rapid antigen test kits will be used?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has registered a number of devices for use under the supervision of a health care professional. Devices that have not been approved by the TGA cannot be used in Australia. 

NSW Health Pathology has evaluated several kits that have been approved by the TGA and has set out in the link above a list of products and suppliers for the procurement of test kits.

NSW Health Pathology will continue to evaluate the performance of rapid antigen devices as they become available. 

Is personal data collected?

Any testing data collected will only be used to help NSW Health make public health decisions.  None of your personal health data is used without your consent.