The Commonwealth Government has announced aged care services in high-risk areas in western New South Wales and Sydney can access rapid antigen testing kits to screen staff for COVID-19.
The rapid antigen testing kits are available to residential and home aged care and Commonwealth Home Support Programme services in 22 Local Government Areas in response to a NSW public health order affecting aged care workers who live or work in these high-risk LGAs.
Under the order, aged care workers who have not had their first vaccination dose can only work if they undergo a rapid antigen test at their work-site.
In response, the Commonwealth is sending kits from the national medical stockpile to residential aged care and CHSP providers in these areas of concern, a spokesperson from the Department of Health said.
This builds on the Federal Government’s rapid antigen testing pilot for up to 50 residential aged care homes in greater Sydney, which kicked off at Uniting NSW ACT’s aged care home in Bankstown in mid-August.
“The RAT pilot will occur in parallel with this process and enable evaluation of the potential use of rapid antigen testing in residential care services,” the health department spokesperson told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The high-risk LGAs in western NSW are Western Plains Regional, Mid-Western Regional, Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, Narromine and Walgett.
High-risk Sydney LGAs include Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and Penrith.
All aged care services who participate in the pilot will receive information, training and support to implement the rapid antigen testing as soon as possible.