New Zealand to pilot COVID-19 antigen testing with private sector

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 7, 2021
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WELLINGTON, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government and businesses are working together to pilot the use of rapid antigen testing of COVID-19 in workplaces in order to incorporate it into the country's COVID-19 response.

The rapid antigen testing will start within the next few days at Auckland City and North Shore hospitals, and be used as a point-of-arrival test in the self-isolation pilots in Auckland and Christchurch from Oct. 30 to Dec. 8, Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said on Thursday.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have used a range of methods to contain and control the virus," Verrall said, adding that as more people gain protection through vaccinations, the government's tool box is changing.

Testing is critical in identifying cases quickly and responding effectively to any outbreaks, she said, adding the New Zealand government wants to harness testing innovation among the business community to boost the public health response.

"While this technology provides a result quickly, rapid antigen testing tends to be less sensitive at detecting cases -- especially in asymptomatic people, or those who are either very early in or towards the end of their infectious period," Verrall said.

"That's why we must ensure a robust system is in place so we don't miss cases," she said, adding that any people who test positive will be verified with further testing, and managed appropriately, including being linked with healthcare.

Work is already underway within the Ministry of Health to consider how rapid antigen testing can best be used to identify new infections, support outbreak investigations through screening, and monitor disease trends, Verrall said. Enditem

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