Changes to saliva testing requirements

News article

22 November 2021

The Ministry has updated the position on the use of saliva for diagnostic testing for COVID-19. This means saliva testing for surveillance purposes for some groups of workers can be reduced from twice weekly to once a week, and there is no need for a follow-up nasopharyngeal swab to confirm a positive saliva test result.

Effective immediately, permitted workers crossing the Alert Level boundary who have chosen saliva testing to meet their testing requirements will only need one saliva test within a seven-day period not two saliva tests. From 15 December permitted workers will need proof of being fully vaccinated or proof of a test taken no more than seven days prior to crossing the boundary.

Workers in the education sector, and maritime and aviation border workers can change from twice weekly saliva testing to once a week when changes are made to the Required Testing Order which the Ministry expects to complete by the end of November. Until this time, the current testing regime remains unchanged for these groups.

There is no change to daily testing for staff at quarantine facilities and twice weekly testing for staff at managed isolation facilities. When the Order is changed, occasional workers in managed isolation and quarantine facilities can also move to once a week for saliva.

There is no change to the current requirements for people crossing the boundary for reasons of permitted personal travel. In most cases, this means having evidence of a negative test 72 hours prior to travel. From 15 December, for people crossing the boundary for personal reasons: proof of being fully vaccinated or a negative COVID-19 test result taken 72 hours before travel must be provided if stopped by police.

The Ministry’s testing strategy is always led by public health and science advice. We are confident it will continue to keep border workers, their whānau and our communities safe.

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