How and when to get tested for COVID-19 in Queensland

Testing for COVID-19 remains an important way to help protect yourself and your loved ones. Knowing if your symptoms are COVID-19 can assist you and others to manage any associated illness appropriately.

You can access two types of tests available in Queensland:

How and when to get tested

You should use a RAT kit to test yourself for COVID-19 if you have COVID-19 symptoms. If you don’t have a RAT kit and are unable to get one, you can get a PCR test at a private pathology-operated location.

Call Triple Zero (000) if you are very sick, including if you are experiencing breathlessness, chest pain, or severe light-headedness.

You do not need to test for COVID-19 if you’ve finished isolation in the past 28 days. You will need to get tested if you finished isolation more than 28 days ago.

Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

How to use a RAT

RATs can be performed by yourself at home and will give a result within 30 minutes. Depending on the type of test, you swab your nose and throat or the inside of your cheeks and tongue.

Some RAT kits can be used on children but not all are suitable for young children or babies. Adults should always perform the test for children. Always read the instructions that come with the test before using it.

Visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) list of Rapid Antigen Test kits available in Australia and instructions for how to use them.

Where to get a RAT

From 1 August 2022, if you have an eligible Commonwealth concession card, you can access free RAT kits from Queensland Health RAT distribution points. To protect others from COVID-19, wear a face mask if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Alternatively, you can purchase RAT kits in retail shops and pharmacies. To protect others from COVID-19, only go to a pharmacy or retail store if you are well.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests

How to get a PCR test

Most private pathology providers require a GP referral and a Medicare card for Medicare to cover the cost of your PCR test. Contact the provider to check whether you need a referral.

PCR tests involve a doctor, nurse or pathology collector using the swab inside your nose and throat. Your samples are sent to a COVID-19 testing laboratory and your result is sent to you by SMS within a few days.

Where to get a PCR test

PCR tests are offered at private pathology-operated locations around Queensland. Remember to check the conditions of bulk billed COVID-19 testing on the private pathology provider’s website before you get you get tested or you may be charged a fee for pathology services.

Find a private pathology-operated location near you that tests for COVID-19:

Testing for international travel (departing Queensland)

COVID-19 testing for the purpose of outgoing international travel clearance is only available at some private pathology-operated locations and fees apply. Please contact the private pathology provider to make an appointment.

Getting your results

If you've had testing performed at Mater PathologyMedLab, QMLSullivan & Nicolaides Pathology or 4Cyte Pathology, you can get your results from your referring GP or directly from the private pathology provider.

If your COVID-19 test result is positive, follow the first steps if you have COVID-19. You should report your RAT result to Queensland Health if you used a RAT kit.

Find out about how test results are handled for cruise ship passengers.