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NSW will transition to a pathology referral model for COVID-19 PCR testing, in line with changes already in place across all other Australian states and territories.

Minister for Health Ryan Park said it is the right time to move away from the current testing arrangements, which will end on 13 May 2023.

“I want to thank all of the healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly in testing clinics across the state to help keep the community safe during the pandemic.” Mr Park said.

“However, since January we’ve seen a significant reduction in demand for PCR testing driven by changes in health recommendations, testing behaviour and increased access to rapid antigen tests (RATs).”

“Over the next few weeks, we will be transitioning to a new model of COVID testing to support the current and future needs of the community.”

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said for the majority of the population, RATs are the most convenient and appropriate test. PCR testing is important for those most at risk of severe COVID and as recommend by treating clinicians.

“PCR testing requested by a medical or nurse practitioner will continue to be available at private pathology services with a referral form,” Dr Chant said.

“This will ensure effective, fast diagnosis so those who are most at risk are able to get timely access to antiviral therapies.”

NSW continues to provide free access to RATs. This includes distribution of RATs through health settings, non-government organisations, local councils, and Service NSW centres.

NSW Health works with stakeholders to ensure priority access to free RATs for groups in most need, including Aboriginal communities, the aged care and disability sectors, CALD communities, and rural and remote populations.