"How accurate are these at home tests?" All the questions you have about COVID-19 right now, answered.

Omicron will no doubt be a conversation around our Christmas tables this year. 

With case numbers rising, COVID-19 testing lines stretched and restrictions relaxed, many of us have some questions we'd like answered. 

So we decided to round them up for you. 

From when we should use rapid antigen tests to how to get our booster shots, here all the questions we have about COVID-19 right now, answered.

1. How accurate are rapid antigen tests? 

First up, let's tackle the question on everyone's mind; what's the go with these rapid antigen tests? 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA] has approved 15 rapid antigen tests that we can take at home to test for COVID-19 within as little as 15-20 minutes. 

However, while they may deliver a faster result and beat lining up for a PCR swab, rapid antigen tests are "less sensitive than a PCR test because there is no amplification process".

They also range from 95-80 per cent effectiveness depending on which test you take.

You can find out which ones are more effective before you reach for your credit card by visiting the TGA website here.

2. When should I use a rapid antigen test? 

Before we catch up with family and friends for festivities, it's a good idea to use a rapid antigen test if you're planning to come in contact with someone who is immune comprised or has a high risk of catching COVID-19. 

In a piece for The Conversation, Thea van de Mortel, Professor, Nursing and Deputy Head from Griffith University wrote you should also consider a rapid antigen test if you are planning to visit a sensitive site (for example, an aged care facility), have COVID symptoms but can’t get a PCR test, are going to an event where lots of people will be mixing, want to quickly check whether you might have a SARS-CoV-2 infection or are part of a regular COVID surveillance program. 


However, we need to remember that a rapid antigen test is considered "a screening tool" and "can indicate that you might be infected, but a PCR test is needed to confirm the result". 

3. What happens if I test positive to COVID-19?

In most states in Australia, if you test positive for COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate away from others until you are medically cleared.

Your state's health department will contact and give you specific advice on what is required during your isolation period and when you can leave isolation. 

However, if you test positive to COVID-19 in Victoria, you must quarantine at home for 10 days after the date you got tested. 

Over in the Northern Territory, the NT Centre for Disease Control will contact you and let you know the next steps for isolation and treatment. 

You will also need to let the people you've been in contact with know you have COVID-19. This includes your household contacts, friends and family you caught up with, your employer and your child's school/childcare.

For more information on what happens when you test positive for COVID-19, read our earlier article here. 

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4. Should I be getting a booster shot now? And does everyone need one?

If you're 18 years and older and had your second COVID-19 vaccination dose at least five months ago, then the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation [ATAGI] recommends you roll up your sleeves for a booster dose. 


The booster shots strengthen our immune systems and provide greater protection against serious illness from COVID-19.

"It is really important - especially with Omicron," leading infectious diseases expert, Professor Sharon Lewin, previously told Mamamia "The third shot gives you much higher levels of antibodies than the first two doses."

ATAGI also recommends that anyone with immunocompromising conditions should get a third dose of the vaccine at least two months after their second dose.

5. How do I get a booster shot?

By now, you may have received a letter from the federal government about receiving your vaccine booster. 

If you're 18 years and older and had your second COVID-19 vaccination dose at least five months ago, then you can get a booster dose by calling your GP or using the COVID-19 Clinic Finder. 

6. What can we do if we're feeling anxious right now?

If you're one of the many people feeling anxious right now, Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno has shared four things we can do to alleviate stress. 

1. Take a digital detox. 

"Right now, our lives are constantly filled with updates about the pandemic and constantly thinking about it can exacerbate any anxious feelings. Try to take digital detoxes ever now and then, where you avoid watching the news, reading the news or scrolling through social media."

2. Practice mindfullness exericses. 

"Practicing mindfulness exercises such as meditation or journaling can help alleviate any feelings of anxiousness. Ideally these practices will focus on being in the present, or ‘the here and now’, rather than worrying about what could happen in the future."

3. Reframe your thoughts. 

"While it is important to be realistic, reframing your thoughts or trying to have a more positive attitude can help with feelings of anxiety. Remind yourself that your attitude really can determine your perspective, often allowing you to appreciate the little things, even if something hasn’t gone quite right. The right perspective can also make you see the funny side when things go wrong and appreciate the smallest things when they go right." 

4. Talk to someone.

"Sometimes just knowing that someone else is going through the same emotions can help you feel more connected and feel as though you have someone to rely on. Also consider seeking help from a professional who can arm you with tactics that can help you cope. Support resources like Lifeline and Beyond Blue are services that provide free over-the-phone counselling with trained experts that can help you through any mental health concerns. Services like Lysn provide access to psychologists via video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home around the clock."

Feature Image: Getty/Mammaia.