A large shipment of 10 million rapid antigen tests (RATs) is arriving this weekend.
This is on top of the 5.2 million tests that have arrived in the past two days and will bring the country’s total stockpile to 22 million by Monday.
Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said the number of Covid-19 cases is expected to reach 10,000 a day “very soon”, and that RATs will increasingly become the main method of testing in the community.
“Users who take a RAT will get their results within 20 minutes, which will help identify cases earlier, reduce wait times for testing and minimize disruption to business and ensure that the workforce critical services and infrastructure work can keep New Zealand running,” she said.
Additional tests will be shipped to community testing centres, GPs and pharmacies across the country.
Companies that need it under the close contact exemption program will also be able to access it.
The government has orders in place for 180 million RAT over the next six months.
From March, members of the public will also be able to purchase RATs from private retailers.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said further details would be provided by the end of the week.
Although the use of the tests is becoming much more widespread, Verrall said PCR tests will still be available in certain circumstances.
In phase three of the government’s Omicron response, PCR tests would be used in hospitals and aged care facilities, and GPs could order PCR if they deemed it necessary, Verrall said.