10 January 2022

How to find a rapid antigen test in Canberra

| Lottie Twyford
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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ease the burden on PCR testing clinics, it seems the problem of long queues and blown-out wait times for results has been replaced by another: getting your hands on a test.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.

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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.

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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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Canberra Diamond Blades has the Innoscreen RATs in stock in their shop in Mitchell. You can buy online at https://canberradiamondblade.com.au/product/innoscreen-rapid-antigen-test-kit-in-stock/ or you can visit their shop. They also have these ones on sale from Monday 22/1/2022 https://canberradiamondblade.com.au/product/bulk-rapid-antigen-test-medomics-lfia-20-pack-box/

Linda Seaniger5:26 pm 13 Jan 22

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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™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.

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.

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

Linda Seaniger3:32 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Larry O'Loughlin2:36 pm 10 Jan 22

Site findarat.com.au doesn’t seem to have Canberra reports anymore. Neither green nor red dots. I reported an out-of-stock location but it didn’t get listed.

The out of stock list currently includes most if not all of the out of stock retailers in the ACT.

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