“These free RATs will be available through the established national network of distribution providers, comprising of health providers and some pharmacies,” said Dr Reti.
The announcement follows a summer of COVID-19 for many Kiwis, with waning immunity and travel contributing to a fifth wave spreading far and wide across the country.
“With COVID-19 very much still circulating in the community and continuing to impact hospital admission rates, current clinical and public health advice supports the ongoing provision of free RATs for COVID-19 to ensure the effective ongoing management of outbreaks,” Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand said in a statement.
Dr Reti said he will get further advice on testing and supply requirements from July 1 onwards.
“Many other countries have already decreased the wide distribution of free RATs; however, this approach will ensure New Zealand continues to have good stocks of tests available as we enter winter.”
Five million further RATs are being purchased, paid for by existing budgets for COVID-19 services.
“We strongly encourage people to make the most of the continued free access and to keep testing if they feel unwell or think they may have COVID-19,” Te Whatu Ora said. “We also encourage them to report their RAT result, as confirmation of a positive result enables people to be connected with any help and support they might need, and provides vital insight on the number of active COVID-19 cases across the country.”
Participating RAT collection sites can be found at www.healthpoint.co.nz or by calling free on 0800 222 478 and choosing option 1.
By the end of December 2023, Te Whatu Ora had distributed about 125 million free RATs for use in the health sector and by the public.