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 (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

Pathology clinics - A referral from a GP or other medical practitioner is required. Usual fees for GP appointments apply. Medicare-eligible residents will not be charged for a COVID-19 PCR test. Some pathology providers may require a booking.


Regional hospitals (selected locations) – PCR tests are available at select regional hospitals and healthcare centres. Contact your closest regional hospital or healthcare centre to find out if they can facilitate COVID-19 testing. Learn more at PathWest (external link).

COVID-19 tests for international visa requirements

COVID-19 PCR tests can be arranged through a private pathology clinic (see provider list above). A referral from a GP or medical practitioner is needed. You will have to pay the cost of the test.  

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:

  • contact your referring doctor or medical practitioner.  
  • check your My Health Record
  • Call PathWest on 13 PATH (13 7284), from 8am to 4pm, Monday – Friday (regional testing clinics only)
Last reviewed: 03-03-2023

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.