COVID testing transitions

31 August 2022

COVID-19 testing clinics have been vital in disease detection to control spread of the virus and keep the community safe. This has required a phenomenal effort from COVID clinic staff.

WA Health acknowledges and thanks everyone involved in COVID-19 testing for their commitment to Western Australia’s COVID-19 response.

WA’s approach to managing COVID-19 has changed considerably since the early days of the pandemic.

There has been reduced demand for PCR testing, and rapid antigen tests (RATs) are now used to diagnose up to 67% of positive cases.

WA will now transition its testing processes to better reflect the current approach to COVID-19 management.

RATs are a safe, effective, rapid and widely available alternative to PCR tests.

WA’s new approach to testing recognises that COVID-19 will be an ongoing respiratory illness and that, as a community, we are learning to live with COVID-19.

Health officer tests person in COVID drive through testing clinic

Changes to COVID clinic operations

From 5 September 2022, publicly funded COVID clinics in the metropolitan area will scale back their weekday opening hours in response to reduced demand for PCR testing. 

The new hours will be 8am to 4pm, 7 days a week.

The 4 public COVID clinics in metropolitan Perth are Royal Perth Hospital, Joondalup Hospital, Rockingham Hospital, and the PathWest Murdoch drive-through.

Opening hours at regional public COVID clinics in Bunbury, Broome and Kununurra have not changed.

Public COVID clinics will only offer PCR testing without a referral for people who have COVID-like symptoms and close contacts on Day 6 of their isolation period.

A RAT may be provided for testing at home if demand for PCR tests exceeds capacity at a public COVID clinic.

Transition to GP referral system for private pathology providers

In most circumstances, a RAT is suitable to test for COVID-19, however access to PCR testing will remain.

From 1 October, people who wish to access PCR testing for COVID-19 at a clinic run by private pathology providers will need a referral from a GP or other medical practitioner.

The usual fees for GP clinics will apply.

This approach to COVID-19 testing aligns with the existing testing for other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

For more information, see the WA Health media statement, Changes to COVID-19 testing clinics to reflect decreasing numbers.