As Victoria achieves vaccination targets, and as a state we move through the roadmap out of lockdowns and restrictions, it is expected that Covid-19 cases will increase in the community.
In response to this, many organisations and workplaces are already working hard to put in place strategies to minimise the risk Covid-19 exposure poses to their workers, their business and to the wider community.
PCR Testing - The gold standard
Ongoing testing is an essential part of these strategies. PCR testing has been the testing method central to managing the Covid-19 pandemic. The RT-PCR (Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) test is considered the gold standard world-wide for testing for Covid-19 infection. It is extremely effective at accurately detecting the genetic material of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, however, testing is carried out in the laboratory and so there is a delay between collecting the sample and getting the results back. These tests require a swab to collect virus particles from the back of the nose and/or throat. On average PCR results take around 24 hours to be returned, but could take longer depending on demand and accessibility to a testing site.
On-Site Rapid Antigen Testing
This is where rapid antigen testing comes in. A Rapid antigen test is a screening test for Covid-19 which can be conducted at the time of sample collection, for example in the workplace. Rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 is exactly as the name suggests – rapid. The test only takes around 15 minutes to return a result. Although these tests are not considered as accurate as PCR testing, they offer a significant advantage to workplaces trying to stay open, by providing an immediate indicative result. Any rapid antigen screening tests that return a positive result must be confirmed urgently by PCR testing.
How do Rapid Antigen Tests work?
Rapid antigen tests can be conducted anywhere, without special facilities. Sample collection usually involves a nasal swab and/or a throat swab or a saliva sample. The sample is then prepared in a buffer solution and applied to a small test cartridge. The rapid antigen test quickly detects the presence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus. There are numerous rapid antigen test kits currently available in Australia, however, there are restrictions and regulations in place around how these devices can be supplied and used.
What benefits do Rapid Antigen tests provide workplaces?
Rapid antigen tests provide workplaces the ability to quickly screen their workers for Covid-19 any time throughout the day with very little waiting time. The test can be conducted almost anywhere, without special facilities. The sample collection process is commonly a nasal swab, throat swab or saliva swab.
The fast turnaround of results allows immediate action to be taken if anyone returns a positive screening test. Rapid antigen testing can facilitate regular regular testing of staff which increases the chances of picking up anyone who may be carrying Covid-19. Faster detection and faster action means limiting the potential spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, which helps to protect your staff and help to keep your workplace open.
How do I implement Rapid Antigen testing in my workplace?
If you are considering using rapid antigen testing in your workplace, BMFHQ can help. There are restrictions on the use of test kits, which need to be adhered to so that the testing is carried out in a safe way.
- Administering the Rapid Antigen Test
- Storage of rapid antigen test kits
- Use of personal protective equipment on-site
- On-site testing process flow
- Recording and Storage of Test results
- Confirming positive screening tests
- Disposal of waste
- Performance of test kits