How to find a rapid antigen test in Canberra

Lottie Twyford 10 January 2022 66
Rapid antigen test

Have you got your hands on a coveted rapid antigen test? Photo: Alistair Wese.

While the widespread use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) will help ease the burden on PCR testing clinics, it seems the problem of long queues and blown-out wait times for results has been replaced by another: getting your hands on a test.

A positive result from a RAT will, from today (10 January), be accepted as confirmation of a COVID-19 infection by ACT Health, which means the demand for the tests is likely to increase.

It’s understood asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 are still better picked up with a PCR test, so if identified as a household or high-risk contact with no symptoms, you may be required to undertake multiple RATs before being sure of your infection status.

PCR testing clinics remain open and wait times can be found online.

The queue at the Garran COVID-19 testing centre.

Long queues at ACT Government testing clinics were recorded in the lead up to Christmas. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

So, how can you track down a test in Canberra?

The tests can be purchased from pharmacies, supermarkets, and other participating retail outlets, such as newsagents.

Pharmacies across Canberra are being inundated with calls about stock levels, with some imposing limits in response to the extreme demand.

Some customers have reported that pharmacies can no longer discuss stock levels over the phone, so calling might not be the best bet.

Rapid antigen tests can be ordered online from several stockists, but they are unlikely to arrive quickly.

This might be a good idea if you’re not in desperate need of one.

READ ALSO: ACT records 938 new cases, 25 in hospital as child jabs start

The findarat website was launched last Monday (3 January) to act as a testing kit locater.* The website uses crowdsourced data, so it only works well if people are willing to log whether or not their local shops have any supplies.

Similarly, many are taking to Facebook noticeboards to ask for help and advice about finding tests near them.

Unfortunately, this can act as a double-edged sword.

READ ALSO: Story behind Civic’s sculptures of menacing, ghostly dogs with pyjamas

When someone posts information on social media about the availability of rapid antigen test supplies and stock, more often than not, they sell out by the time others arrive.

By then, people are often frustrated and can become angry or upset with staff at the location they’ve travelled to.

All of this impacts the pharmacies and pharmacists who are already bearing the brunt of a COVID-19-impacted workforce and the challenges of the booster dose rollout.

The best advice is just to keep turning up and checking. Pharmacists are struggling to control supply as so many tests are now on backorder. This makes it difficult for them to say with any certainty when more stock will arrive.

It’s hoped these supply issues will ease in the coming months as federal authorities reassure Australians more RATs are on the way – 100 million RATs are expected to arrive in the country across the next two months.

READ ALSO: Solar-powered electric appliances’ hot options’ as ACT homeowners go green

Currently, a five-pack of RATs should set you back around $60, although some people have reported individual tests going for upwards of $45.

Reports of price gouging are being investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, whose chair, Rod Sims, said last week they are “seeking information from suppliers about their costs and the current pricing of rapid antigen tests”.

“We won’t be shy to name and shame suppliers and retailers we consider to be doing the wrong thing,” Mr Sims said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also rejected calls to make rapid antigen tests free, although people who hold a government concession card can access a number of free tests.

That’s if there’s any to be found.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report indicated RATs were available in Macgregor. This information was incorrect.

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66 Responses to How to find a rapid antigen test in Canberra
Linda Seaniger Linda Seaniger 5:26 pm 13 Jan 22

No Rats bad planning by both the Federal & ACT government. Hurry on the next elections.

Craig Dickenson Craig Dickenson 9:03 pm 11 Jan 22

Not very RAPID

Tam Ster Tam Ster 6:54 pm 11 Jan 22

Contact the Australian sponsor in regards to purchasing online

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 4:40 pm 11 Jan 22

About time ScoMo checks availability of stocks before opening his mouth...... another big stuff up

maragle maragle 10:36 am 11 Jan 22

Find a RAT identifies supplies at several locations in Greater Sydney. It looks like driving to Southern Sydney, Wollongong or Cowra are the only options if you want a RAT kit and live in the ACT.

Daws N Barb Daws N Barb 9:48 am 11 Jan 22

You can also purchase them at Blue Ink Group

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 9:25 am 11 Jan 22

I’ve ordered some online, the company is updating info and it looks like they’ll arrive “sometime.” They’ve stopped taking orders.

Andy Kay Andy Kay 8:24 am 11 Jan 22

Government should have them delevered to everyone’s front door step bib hawk would have with a case of beer 🙏

Mikaela Wakefield Mikaela Wakefield 7:41 am 11 Jan 22

Yeah, help ease the burden and pass it on to all pharmacies and supermarkets. Someone important opens their mouth and tells everyone to get panadol, nurofen and hydrolyte for when they get sick and guess what? ALL PANADOL IS SOLD OUT like, who would have thought panadol works if you have a fever? Ffs. I'm embarrassed

Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 7:09 am 11 Jan 22

Can't even get them online. They are out if stock everywhere, including amazon.

Ian Ian 10:52 pm 10 Jan 22

I bet the price gougers are really worried about what the ACCC might do. A slap over the wrist in about the middle of 2025 is about all that is likely.

    JS9 JS9 9:31 am 11 Jan 22

    That’s if the ACCC even bothers to do anything. Used to be a useful protector of consumer rights – now just a toothless faded warrior, barely able to get out of its corner, let alone land a decent blow against anyone.

kenbehrens kenbehrens 9:05 pm 10 Jan 22

If you are finding it hard to get a RAT, Dominick Perrottet has 50 million of them put aside and has ordered another 50 million.

No wonder there are none available and prices have skyrocketed.

Perhaps Andrew Barr could ask his NSW equivalent if he’d be could spare just a few?

    maragle maragle 10:37 am 11 Jan 22

    Yes given that Sydney and Melbourne have stock available I immediately thought WTF is the ACT gov’t doing about ensuring supplies here.

    I am a Rabbit™ I am a Rabbit™ 12:07 pm 11 Jan 22

    The ACT has one million RATS on the way, which from a per capita perspective is more than what the NSW Government has ordered. The stock currently available in Sydney and Melbourne are from private businesses.

    JC JC 2:13 pm 11 Jan 22

    How do you work that out Rabbit?

    Population of ACT is a tad over 400,000 so 1m tests is 2.5 each.

    Population of NSW is a tad over 8m so 50m tests is 6.25 each.

    So per capita NSW has well over double the amount the ACT has ordered.

Jenny McInnes Jenny McInnes 7:37 pm 10 Jan 22

"need some luck" a bit like winning lotto?

Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 5:00 pm 10 Jan 22

Best get you hands on a mask

Katie Lou Katie Lou 4:43 pm 10 Jan 22

Not sure how useful this will be, but there is a website:

At the moment it shows none in Canberra, but people will add reports as they find them… At least this is easier than running around to a bajillion pharmacies.

    Jasper Roo Jasper Roo 4:48 pm 10 Jan 22

    Katie that’s the one they reference in the article that says Macgregor Woolworths had stock, when there is no Macgregor Woolworths 🤷‍♀️

    Katie Lou Katie Lou 4:52 pm 10 Jan 22

    Jasper Roo it is a wiki-type site so is only as accurate as people contribute…

Cristy Khan Cristy Khan 4:37 pm 10 Jan 22

Any ideas where to get a test kit as my daughter may have covid & I'm scared for my 7montb old granddaughter's safety

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 7:17 pm 10 Jan 22

    Cristy Khan maybe best to get a PCR test to alleviate any concerns and not wait to find a RAT kit...

Matthew Soall Matthew Soall 4:03 pm 10 Jan 22

Maybe the Federal government should have secured their suppys before switching to Rapid testing, as far as I understand it, it is a federal responsibility.

    Lynn Nicholas Lynn Nicholas 7:10 am 11 Jan 22

    Matthew Soall correct. Yet again another well thought out plan by our pollies.

JC JC 3:41 pm 10 Jan 22

Woolworths Macgrgeor? There is NO supermarket in Macgrgeor, hasn’t been for 30 years. There is one nearby at Holt and Dunlop.

Linda Seaniger Linda Seaniger 3:32 pm 10 Jan 22

I’ve rang around and can’t find any I’ve tried about 10 pharmacies and they won’t even advise you when stock comes in. I have an elderly parent that I’m going to care for on Central Coast on Wednesday morning for a week and it would be nice to do a rats test before then to make sure I’m not going to kill him Shortly after arrival. I’m 66 dad is 84 years of age. The government has mismanagement of the Covid Episode just as badly as the bushfires.
Roll on the next election.

    kenbehrens kenbehrens 9:29 pm 10 Jan 22

    Hi Linda, in my opinion, Covid got out of hand because Dominick Perrottet did away with masks, QR codes and restrictions at the commencement of Omicron. He’s reinstated them under protest, by which time, it was everywhere.
    We learn today that Mr Perrottet has a stash of 50 million RATs and has ordered another 50 million.
    If I lived in NSW, I would vote him out in a heartbeat. I believe he has a lot more to answer for than ScoMo.

    Mostly, I think ScoMo, has been ok and I doubt that Albo would have done any better. That said, ScoMo’s decision to allow the private sector to distribute RATs and the Government’s support of gross profit margins of up to 120% for RATs, is disgraceful during a pandemic.

    But who is the real culprit here; ScoMo or Perrettot?
    In my opinion – the new kid – Perrettot. RATs only became expensive after Perrettot let the virus rip and we now hear he has 50 million of them stashed away. RATs that perhaps you and I could otherwise buy.

    JS9 JS9 9:30 am 11 Jan 22

    I’d suggest both the ultra christian nutjobs are equally to blame for different elements. It was Perrotett that was the public face of ‘let it rip and open up’, but Morrison hardly pushed back either, and was very happy to largely endorse Perrotett’s approach that in essence made decisions for the rest of Australia (bar really WA – who will eventually have to catch up).

    Not for one second saying any of this is easy to manage – but when you start ignoring the advice of the experts, and start running on little more then the ‘vibe’ of it, that’s when bad outcomes happen as we are seeing now.

    kenbehrens kenbehrens 6:07 pm 11 Jan 22

    As a society we accept that it is inappropriate to have a go at someone based on their Gender or Sexuality. The same applies to the Religion. There is no need to refer to Messrs Morrison and Perrettot as
    ‘ultra christian nutjobs”. Ok, rant over.

    chewy14 chewy14 2:51 pm 11 Jan 22

    If you think Perrottet’s relaxing of mask mandates and QR code made such a difference in case numbers how do you explain the higher numbers in Victoria (and QLD), where those restrictions were never relaxed?

    Honestly, people are once again looking for governments to blame (usually for political reasons), when the facts are, the government can’t make that much of a difference in the face of this virus and a lack of community compliance.

    Just like in last year’s Delta outbreak, NSW is simply a month or so in front of the other states with their outbreaks. Funny that those trumpeting NSWs “mockdown”, went very silent after Victoria’s “hard, fast, effective” lockdown led to even higher cases there last year, wasn’t it.

    I also find the discussion around RATS amusing. Whilst they have their place, they aren’t that effective and don’t really do much except tell people who almost certainly have Covid that they do, in fact, have Covid.

    phydeaux phydeaux 3:51 pm 11 Jan 22

    Odd comments from you, chewy. PCR tests tell people who have recently had Covid or are just getting it that they have Covid also, but RATs say you are likely in an infectious phase, and produce that answer in 15 minutes rather than days. RATs are a valuable screening tool for people needing frequent or short-notice Covid information, especially if the important question is current infectiousness. Sensitivity of top RATs is over 95%.

    When comparing case numbers, take into account numbers tested (sample size) with positivity rates, and non- or under-reporting of RATs-discovered cases. I have no idea of true population figures but I do expect that current and recent figures are not comparable owing to sample inadequacies, even serially in the same State let alone between States.

    chewy14 chewy14 4:42 pm 11 Jan 22

    Not odd in the slightest.

    “but RATs say you are likely in an infectious phase”

    RATS are very good for symptomatic people but not as good for asymptomatic cases or cases prior to symptom onset.

    So they are very good for telling people with Covid symptoms that they have Covid. Which in the current climate doesn’t tell you much because if you have Covid symptoms you should just probably assume you have Covid. The vast majority of cases won’t need hospital or other medical treatment, so the utility of a confirmed test isn’t that great for the individual.

    “Sensitivity of top RATs is over 95%.”

    In controlled studies, under certain conditions that won’t match real world usage and not all RATs are the same.

    As I said, RATs have their place but the hysteria over not currently being able to access them on demand doesn’t match with their usefulness and where they will provide the most benefit. Honestly, we have asymptomatic people who aren’t contacts of any case testing themselves with RATs “just in case”. It’s nonsense.

    “I have no idea of true population figures but I do expect that current and recent figures are not comparable owing to sample inadequacies,”

    Yes, there’s limitations in testing but from the data that is available, there isn’t much difference between the states except for WA. Certainly nowhere near enough difference to claim that NSW removing mask mandates for 10 days caused a significant or material increase in case numbers.

Debs Reno Debs Reno 3:19 pm 10 Jan 22

Like many others I need to have some so I can get my cancer treatment it's so frustrating 😷

    Jayne Denise Jayne Denise 5:01 pm 10 Jan 22

    Debs Reno I heard the treatment centre is supplying them. Please check, might save you some worry

    Debs Reno Debs Reno 5:10 pm 10 Jan 22

    Jayne Denise thanks I have an appointment in a week with my gynae/ oncologist to discuss a treatment plan. Thanks for that 💜

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 7:12 pm 10 Jan 22

    Debs Reno oh goodness, all the best to you with your cancer treatment, sorry to hear.

    Hopefully and surely the hospital will supply the tests for cancer patients - so wrong otherwise..

    Debs Reno Debs Reno 7:24 pm 10 Jan 22

    Nada Krstin Thanks, I'm ok not life threatening now but do need regular checks and possibly treatment ❤

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