Treatments and tests

COVID-19 testing

You should be tested if you have COVID-like symptoms. 

It's important you get tested early, as that's when you're most infectious.

COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms, which can be mild, moderate or severe and can include:

  • fever (≥37.50C) or recent history of fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • loss of smell or taste.

If you have COVID-like symptoms and take a RAT or PCR test, you should stay home until you know the result and until symptoms resolve.

Register a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) result

If you test positive using a RAT, you are a confirmed COVID case.

Register your positive test.

Rapid antigen tests (RATs)

A rapid antigen test (RAT) is a quick home test to check if you have COVID-19. It provides a result within 15 to 30 minutes.

RAT kits are available for purchase from supermarkets, pharmacies and other selected suppliers. You may be eligible for the WA Free RAT Program. Check RAT collection locations at wa.gov.au (external site).

RAT kits approved for use (external site) by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) can be used in WA.

Register a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) result

If you test positive using a RAT, you are a confirmed COVID case.

Register your positive test

Types of rapid antigen tests

There are 2 types of RAT:

  1. Saliva test - the user spits into a tube, or sucks on a swab
  2. Nasal swab - user swabs each nostril.

Use of rapid antigen tests for children

All RAT kits include guidance on their recommended use. Check the suitability of using the RAT on children and follow the instructions closely. Parents or guardians should perform or supervise RATs on children. 

Following your RAT results

If you test negative, monitor for COVID-like symptoms and test again if they develop.,

If your RAT result is positive, and follow guidance for confirmed cases.

Disposing of home use tests

Some RAT kits include a plastic bag for you to place the contents of the test, including the swab, into. Place this bag into another bag for disposal with your household rubbish.

If no bags are provided with your kit, you can place the used items from the test into a small plastic bag that can be sealed. Place this bag put into another bag that can be sealed and disposed of with your household rubbish.

Wash your hands carefully after completing the test and disposing of the test kit contents.

More information on the use of RATs

More information on RATs is available online:

RAT registration

If you test positive using a RAT, it is recommended that you register your result (external site).

You can ask a friend or family member to register a positive RAT result on your behalf. Please note that RAT registration is no longer mandatory.

Amending your RAT registration

If you make a mistake with your online RAT registration you can re-register your RAT with the correct details. Note, WA Department of Health will not reissue a RAT confirmation text message.     

RAT registration link not working

Try registering again later. Please note that RAT registration is no longer mandatory.

I haven’t received a RAT registration text message

There may be a delay of up to 48 hours between registering your RAT and receiving a text message from WA Department of Health. If you registered your RAT result and did not receive a text message, no further action is required by you.

The WA Department of Health is unable to issue the RAT registration text message in any other format.

Showing evidence of COVID-19 infection

If you deleted or didn’t receive a RAT registration text message the following can be used as evidence of COVID-19 infection:

  • Dated photograph of your positive RAT
  • PCR test result from My Health Record
  • PCR test result text message

Why you should register your positive RAT

The more people register their positive RATs, the more accurately WA Health can assess case numbers. However, other surveillance methods are also used to monitor the amount of virus in the community, such as WA Health staff furlough numbers.

While it is recommended that you register a positive RAT result, registration is not mandatory and there is no penalty if people do not register positive RATs.

COVID clinics and PCR tests

How a PCR works

A qualified practitioner will insert a swab into the back of your throat and then through your nose. This procedure takes less than one minute. It may cause mild discomfort but is not painful.

Your swab sample will be taken to a laboratory to be tested for COVID-19.

Where to get a PCR test

Public COVID clinics

Public COVID clinics offer PCR testing without a referral for people with COVID-like symptoms and asymptomatic close contacts.

Locations:

Murdoch Drive-through - Farm Rd off Murdoch Drive (Entry F – Murdoch University), 

  • Monday to Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm
  • Weekends and public holidays 8:00am - 1:00pm

Please note: Opening hours may vary on very hot days.

COVIDTestWA is available at all State-run COVID clinics. It is a safe and secure pre-registration system that enables you to provide your patient details before you get tested at a public COVID clinic in metropolitan Perth.

You can pre-register your details by scanning the QR code displayed at testing clinics or via the PathWest website (external link).

You can register yourself and your dependents.

Resources

Regional

Public COVID-19 testing is available in regional areas. Contact your closest regional hospital or healthcare centre to find out if they can facilitate COVID-19 testing. You can also visit PathWest (external link) for more information and a list of their available locations.

Private Pathology

A referral from a GP or other medical practitioner is required for all PCR tests at clinics run by private pathology providers. There is no charge for the PCR test, but usual fees for GP appointments may apply. For a list of COVID-19 testing services at private providers please visit the webpages listed below. A booking may be required.

Providers:

GP respiratory clinics

The Australian Government has established GP respiratory clinics (external site) around the country to clinically assess, test and diagnose adults and children with mild to moderate respiratory conditions, including COVID-19 symptoms.

The clinics are GP-led. They also offer free treatment for people diagnosed with COVID-19, and some clinics offer COVID-19 vaccinations.

There is no cost to the patient and no referral is needed, however, people with any COVID-like symptoms are strongly encouraged to make an appointment.

COVID-19 tests for international visa requirements

COVID-19 PCR tests for the purpose of international visa requirements are not available at public COVID clinics at any time. They can be arranged through a private pathology clinic, with the cost of the test to be paid by the individual.

COVID-19 tests for visa requirements are also available for a fee at selected PathWest Collection Centres (external site).

Test results

You will receive your PCR test result via SMS within 72 hours, but most people receive their result within 24 to 48 hours.

You may be worried while you are waiting for your result. To read about ways to take care of your mental health and wellbeing visit Think Mental Health (external site).

If you do not receive your result after 48 hours and you had your test at a public COVID clinic or a regional hospital, you can:

  • Check your My Health Record (external site) for your test result
  • Call PathWest on 13 PATH (13 7284), from 8am to 4pm, Monday - Friday.
  • If you were tested by a private pathology provider, contact them directly.

Travelling to Australia

Refer to Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care (external website) for information about COVID-19 testing for people travelling to Australia from China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

Last reviewed: 10-01-2023

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.