About the testing process - coronavirus (COVID-19)

We use two types of tests to detect COVID-19 in Queensland. They are:

  • a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)
  • a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

RAT testing process

RAT kits can be used at home and should give a result within 15-30 minutes.

There are many different types of RAT kits. Some will ask you to use the swab inside your nose and throat, while others will ask you to use the swab inside your mouth on your cheeks and tongue.

Always read the instructions that come with the kit before using it. Check out the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) list of Rapid Antigen Test kits available in Australia and instructions for how to use them.

Some types of RAT kits can be used to test children, but not all are suitable for young children and babies. Adults should always do the tests for children or supervise children who are using a kit.

The RAT kit will show a positive, negative, or inconclusive result. If the result is positive, follow the first steps if you have COVID-19, including reporting your RAT result to Queensland Health.

If the result is inconclusive, repeat the test on a new kit.

PCR testing process

PCR testing involves a doctor or nurse using the swab inside your nose and throat. Your samples are sent to the nearest COVID-19 testing laboratory.

You will get a text message with your result. If the result is positive, follow the first steps if you have COVID-19.

Cost of testing

You have a range of options available to you if you require a COVID-19 test in Queensland.

Queensland Health testing clinics

You can get a free PCR test from any Queensland Health testing clinic.

RAT kits are also available free of charge at a limited number of Queensland Health testing clinics.

Private pathology clinics

Free Medicare-funded PCR testing are available at private pathology-operated clinics for anyone with a Medicare card and a GP referral.

If you do not have your Medicare card and a GP referral, you may be charged for the test by the private pathology-operated clinic.

Some PCR testing at private laboratories interstate may have a cost, so if you’re not sure, ask the testing clinic.

Community pharmacies

You can access free RAT kits from community pharmacies if you have an eligible Commonwealth concession card. RAT kits are also available to purchase in retail shops and chemists. Pathology Queensland does not recommend Oral or Saliva Rapid Antigen Testing Kits.

To protect others from COVID-19, only go to a pharmacy or retail store if you are well.

Cost of testing for international travel (departing Queensland)

COVID-19 testing for the purpose of outgoing international travel clearance is only available at private pathology collection centres and fees apply. Please contact your local private pathology provider.