Rapid antigen test (RAT)

A rapid antigen test (RAT) is a quick home test to check if you may have COVID-19 and provides a result within 15 to 30 minutes.

RAT kits are available for purchase from supermarkets, pharmacies and other selected suppliers. Free RATs are available for close contacts. Close contacts with no symptoms can leave their place of isolation provided they undertake a daily RAT, wear a mask at all times outside the home, and avoid high-risk settings. Collection locations are available at wa.gov.au (external site)

If you need this information provided to you in another language, please contact 13 COVID (13 26843), where you can access an interpreter.

If your test is positive using a RAT, follow the isolation protocols for a confirmed case.

Learn about how to look after yourself when you have COVID-19.

Positive rapid antigen test results

If you are a confirmed positive case, you must:

  • Self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days
  • At Day 7, if symptoms are still present, continue isolating until symptoms clear
  • If no symptoms are present after Day 7, you can leave self-isolation. No testing is required.

Types of rapid antigen tests

There are 2 types of RAT:

  • Saliva test – user spits into a tube, or sucks on a swab
  • Nasal swab – user swabs each nostril.

Your kit will contain:

  • Test device
  • Spit funnel or nasal swab
  • Test tube with dropper cap to collect samples
  • Buffer (chemical solution that extract the virus from samples)
  • Instructions for use.

Some kits contain only saliva pens. These kits do not require a test device or dropper cap. All kits have a QR code which links to a video that demonstrate how to take a test.

RAT kits approved for use (external site) by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) can be used in WA.

Use of rapid antigen tests for children

All RAT kits contain guidance on their recommended use. Check the suitability of using the RAT on children and follow the instructions closely. Parents or guardians should perform or supervise RATs on children.

Understanding RAT results

Negative

Rapid Antigen Test - Negative Result

What it means

It is unlikely you have COVID-19.

What to do

Monitor for symptoms.

Positive

Rapid Antigen Test - Positive Result

What it means

It is likely you have COVID-19. Note: the result is positive even if the second line is very thin/faint.

What to do

  • Isolate at home for 7 days
  • If you have no symptoms after 7 days, then no further test is required, and you can stop isolating
  • If you have symptoms on day 7, remain in isolation until those symptoms clear or get clearance from a medical professional before leaving isolation

Register your positive RAT result (external site)

Invalid

Rapid Antigen Test - Invalid Result

What it means

The test has not worked. You may have collected your saliva or nasal swab incorrectly, or there may be a manufacturing defect.

You need to repeat the test.

What to do

After you repeat the test, follow the guidelines above for positive or negative results.

If you get a second invalid result, get a PCR test.

How do I dispose of a home use test?

This will vary according to information provided with the tests. Some tests come with a plastic bag to place the contents of the test into (including the swab). This bag is then placed into another bag for disposal with your household rubbish. If no bags are provided you can place the used items from the test into a small plastic bag that can be sealed. This bag should be put into another bag that can be sealed and disposed of with your household rubbish. Wash your hands carefully after completing the test and disposing of the test kit contents.

Rapid Antigen Test FAQs

Read the Rapid Antigen Test frequently asked questions (external site).

Last reviewed: 05-05-2022

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Coronavirus information helplines: 13 COVID (13 268 43). Interstate callers: 1800 595 206. International callers: +61 8 9118 3100.