COVID testing will shift to a pathology referral model under an overhaul that spells the end of pop-up PCR testing clinics, the State government has announced.
NSW Health Minister, Ryan Park earlier today, Wednesday, April 19 said it was the right time to move away from the existing pandemic arrangements, setting May 13 as the date for the shift to kick in.
Huge queues dogged some PCR testing clinics before the arrival of rapid antigen tests, with the throat and nose swabs forming the backbone of detection efforts for much of the lockdown periods.
I want to thank all of the healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly in testing clinics across the State to help keep the community safe during the pandemic. Mr Park said.
However, since January we've seen a significant reduction in demand for PCR testing driven by changes in health recommendations, testing behaviour and increased access to rapid antigen tests (RATs).
"Over the next few weeks, we will be transitioning to a new model of COVID testing to support the current and future needs of the community."
Chief health officer, Kerry Chant said rapid antigen tests were the most convenient and appropriate mode to check for COVID for most patients, but PCR retained a place for those most at risk of severe COVID.
PCR testing requested by a medical or nurse practitioner will continue to be available at private pathology services with a referral form, Dr Chant said.
This will ensure effective, fast diagnosis so those who are most at risk are able to get timely access to antiviral therapies.
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