• MattD2
    288
    We've administered just over 6000 RATs now within our business.Jo Prigmore
    Any chance you have kept a record of how many false positives have you had so far @Jo Prigmore?
  • Jo Prigmore
    38
    Sure. We've had 3 invalid tests, 5 positive and three of these confirmed positive with PCR. Hopefully its OK for me to share some MoH stats from pharmacy testing over the summer break - from memory they did 41,000 tests got 19 invalid, 26 positive of which 9 confirmed positive with PCR.
    I find it useful to think about RATs as testing for being infectious rather than infected, like a canary in a mine - they give us a chance to find someone who is infectious before they show symptoms and hence reduce the exposure time to everyone else.
  • MattD2
    288
    Thanks @Jo Prigmore - interesting information. A real positive that both yours and the pharmacy testing results are an order of magnitude less for the false positives rate than the MoH guidance, which will mean much less of a disruption to operations.
  • Jo Prigmore
    38
    Can't promise but that's what we've seen so far...
  • Sheri Greenwell
    320
    Is there any way of finding out any information about other brands of RATs that might be in the pipeline already for approval? Our organisation has divisions in Australia that have been able to source RATs that are not currently approved in NZ, and currently it's very difficult to get any of the few approved types, but we are thinking we might be able to organise allocation of RATs that are likely to be approved so we can get them sent to us when approval goes through. Any thoughts on that??
  • Steve H
    265
    Contact the Director General Of Health Sheri, good luck with getting a straight answer from Dr Ashley.

    If you know the name of a particular person at the Ministry you are trying to contact, you can use this email format:firstname.lastname(at)health.govt.nz
  • TracyRichardson
    35
    Hi Sheri

    I am in the same boat in regards in waiting for clarification on due process.

    I am in the process of developing the protocols for omicron and have looked on the MoH website and looking for a list of what is the definition of a ‘critical worker’ and in what industry?

    In regard to the RATs, as per the the news, the MoH is commandeering the supply of RATs and business’s will be able to get them for free, but the MoH website contradicts this stating ‘…Businesses that use rapid antigen tests above and beyond the requirements of mandatory testing must pay for tests themselves…’.

    I called one of our local pharmacies to enquire as to the supply of RATs, and was informed they are still waiting on the government to notify them of the way forward, as MoH have commandeered their supply. So, as a local business, we cannot purchase any stock for health monitoring purposes as per the MoH website as prescribed ‘…To maximise the performance of a rapid antigen test and increase the likelihood of detecting a case, surveillance testing two to three per week as a minimum is recommended for individuals who are at increased risk of infection…’.

    I have sent these queries to MBIE and waiting on feedback
  • MattD2
    288
    but the MoH website contradicts this stating ‘…Businesses that use rapid antigen tests above and beyond the requirements of mandatory testing must pay for tests themselves…’.TracyRichardson
    Further confused by the details on the MoH's RAT advice page that
    RATs are not mandatory and won’t be suitable for everyone. It is up to businesses to choose whether they want to use RATs.MoH
  • MattD2
    288
    So semantics! Any stock business do have aren't being taken off them, but they can't purchase any more.

    As an example of how the Government "only consolidating" stock is in practice essentially the same as the Government requisitioning all RATs in NZ - I just heard from a company that I work with that they only have enough stock to test all of their employees 3 times - so essentially 1 week's worth of stock if testing at the rate recommended by the MoH. So rather than using RAT as surveillance testing how the MoH has recommended for business that choose to do so, they are now having to look at the most effective way to use their remaining stock (only testing "high risk" people such as those that frequently visit multiple sites).

    When will the spin stop!
  • Sheri Greenwell
    320
    So what might the implications be of sourcing other brands not currently on the MoH 'approved' list? For example, if we could source brands / types of RATs approved in Australia but not yet on NZ's approved list, would we be likely to be prevented from bringing them in or hindered in using them? Surely 'some' kind of testing would be much better than none at all....??
  • Steve H
    265
    At the moment, bringing unapproved RATs in, would likely see them sized by NZ Customs. Comments by the good Doctor Ashley, that he didn't "requisition" current inbound supplies, merely suggested that they should be diverted to the Government for "allocation" as it sees fit, is disingenuous.

    Surely 'some' kind of testing would be much better than none at all....??Sheri Greenwell
    Here's a link to the Aussie Government's advice and ranking of RATs, lot more pragmatic than what's flowing out of Wellington.
  • MattD2
    288
    At the moment, bringing unapproved RATs in, would likely see them sized by NZ Customs.Steve H
    I would expect this too - given that they are a medical device my understanding is you need to be licensed to import them, except when exempted by specific legislation - such as the RAT order allowing any business (or other approved entity) to directly import the RAT from the approved list.
  • Steve H
    265
    This NZ Herald item makes for interesting (if head shaking in disbelief) reading, Covid 19 Omicron: Sir Ian Taylor - How to solve the rapid antigen tests crisis in three hours
  • Sheri Greenwell
    320
    So even if we can source approved RATs, is the NZ government going to appropriate them?
  • Steve H
    265
    I'm certain that most people don't realize the sweeping powers afforded to the Government and Public Heath officials under the Public Health Act and various bits of Covid legislation Sheri. What happens going forward, will depend on the size of the Omicron Tsunami getting ready to hit us.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    320
    Thanks Steve - I'm sure there will be some valid reasons for wanting to manage the supply, including the inclination of some people to hoard supplies when there are perceived shortages, and the government will want to prioritise critical work activities. But it seems a bit of overreach to impede supply that is sourced independently. What flashes through my mind now is that the government itself is working from a scarcity perspective. :chin:
  • Sarah Becker
    11
    Lots of information above, but I have a different question, in the hierarchy of controls where does RAT's sit, having some interesting discussions with our workers who see this an an engineering control or isolation, where as I see it as a health monitoring tool which is more at the admin level, have seen some literature that people see vaccinations as elimination which once again we see it as an engineering control, would love to know your thoughts and expert opinions before we launch into our final COVID risk assessment consultation process with our workers.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    320
    Like you, I would consider RAT (as well as PCR for that matter) just a monitoring tool, rather than a control.

    RAT is only designed to give you information about the hazard so you can take actions, rather than controlling the hazard and preventing infection.
  • E Baxter
    31
    I agree vaccination is an engineering control as it does not eliminate the risk. RAT's are health monitoring and I would put under admin. It is used as a control to identify covid positive workers so therefore helps to reduce risk of spread within the workplace.
  • KeithH
    108
    @Sarah Becker you may not agree, but this is how I see your post.

    RATs do not sit in the hierarchy of controls.
    As @Sheri Greenwell states, both RATs and PCR tests are monitoring activities. Further, monitoring links to either the contingency plan and/or the emergency response plan for the hazard. The contingency plan are actions to take if the risk assessment controls are not followed or are unsuitable - that is, the safety fence at the top of the cliff. An emergency response plan is what to do after something has gone pear-shaped - the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
    Once Covid is detected in a location, the risk assessment should be set to one side and focus move to the emergency response plan.

    Vaccinations are an isolation control as the aim is to isolate the worker from the hazard.
    Engineering controls are physical in nature or are changes to work systems. Depending on the long term effects, vaccinations could be designated as substitution.


    Traditional risk assessments focus on internal hazards with safety taking prominence over health.
    As Covid is an external health threat to business, consider doing a pandemic or epidemic risk assessment using a PESTLE analysis while still using the hierarchy of controls for each factor.
  • TracyRichardson
    35
    If any of my staff require testing they will need to go directly for PCR testing due to the lack of RAT Kit test location points.

    The closest are between one hour to three hours away from where the business is located. At this point a person that is positive needs to climb in their car, drive to the clinic for the test (as most of the GP's here do not do COVID testing)

    Until the RATs are distributed to more businesses, and there are more collection points, PCR testing will be required when a RAT is positive to verify that the person still has omicron. As we only have two locations were it can be done for free (one is a walk-in and one a clinic) I have made this the main means of testing and confirmation until further notice.

    Verification required in the form of a text, so that employee can email employer, to ensure that they can apply for COVID-19 Short Term Absence Payment and COVID-19 Leave Payment to met the eligibility criteria.
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