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Tasmania goes own way on rapid antigen tests for students as school returns

Tasmania’s public health authority has defended its decision not to recommend Tasmanian school students undertake twice weekly rapid COVID tests, in contrast to Australia’s most populous states.

In New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, primary and secondary school students are required to take rapid antigen tests (RATs) twice a week, regardless of whether they have COVID symptoms.

In New South Wales, students are advised to take a RAT before they start school for the year to confirm they don’t have COVID.

In Tasmania, students will get a COVID care package containing two RATs before they return to school, with the RATs only to be used if the student has COVID symptoms.

If they have symptoms again, they’ll get up to two RATs per week.

Students — and staff — are urged to not come to school if symptomatic.(Pixabay)

Deputy Public Health Director Scott McKeown said the recommendation not to undertake surveillance testing of students was based on the level of COVID transmission in Tasmania.

“Other states are putting in place other testing regimes, they have much higher levels of transmission,” Dr McKeown said.

“We’ve been very lucky to date to have lower levels of transmission and our advice around RAT testing for students and staff is also consistent with our broader recommendation for the Tasmanian public, and different workforces including health care workers and residential aged care workers. “

Dr McKeown said children were less likely, compared with adults, to pass on COVID to others.

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