New Coronavirus Laws On Reporting Rapid Antigen Tests in NSW

Poppy Morandin.

The NSW Government has recently announced that a $1,000 fine will be applicable to those who fail to report their positive rapid antigen test results. 

Individuals are able to report their positive results via an online form available on the Service NSW app, website or in another approved way.

“Registering your RAT result enables NSW Health to provide you with advice on self-isolation and managing COVID-19 symptoms at home, to connect high risk people to clinical care services and to help inform the ongoing public health response.” stated Premier, Dominic Perrottet.

If your rapid antigen test returns a negative or invalid result, you are not required to report it.

Furthermore, if you have had a positive PCR test in the 28 days before your positive rapid antigen test, you are also not required to report it.

Individuals are able to report a positive result dating back to 1 January 2022.

However, this back-dated report is a non-mandatory option. 

“This technology has been built with trust and security at its core. Service NSW will send the information directly to NSW Health, it isn’t shared with any third parties, and is then deleted from Service NSW records within days,” said Customer Service and Digital Government Minister Victor Dominello.

Enforcement of the penalty for failing to register a positive result will begin from January 19, with those who have returned a result from 13 January 2022 required to report. 

Questions have been raised as to how this measure may even be enforced. 

Comments on social media included: “I just registered my positive test with Service NSW but how would they prove if I hadn’t? I took the test at home; a friend gave it to me so I can’t even be pinged for buying it. It’s just dumb to say you’re going to penalise people for what is essentially an honour system.”

Others have branded it a “scare tactic” with the measure largely about “self-regulation”.

Mr. Dominello has further admitted it will be “almost impossible” to police.

“We just want to send the message out that this is really important,” he explained. 

Once a person returns a positive result from a rapid antigen test, they are considered a ‘diagnosed person’ and are therefore required to self-isolate in the same way as if the person were diagnosed by undergoing PCR testing. 

At this stage, this means 7 days of self-isolation. 

South Australia, Queensland, Victoria also have similar measures in place, enabling those who test positive on a rapid antigen test to report their results. 

The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) enables state officials to make a varied range of enforceable directions for the specific purposes of addressing public health risks and controlling the spread of infectious diseases. 

Through the power of this Act, multiple orders and amendments to these orders have been made throughout the pandemic. Click here for some of the coronavirus laws and penalties in NSW.

New Laws on Reporting Rapid Antigen Tests

This current measure has been made under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) Amendment (No 4) Order 2022, to the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) 2021.

Other current Orders in effect include the Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order (No 2) 2021. 

Paying on the spot fines or ‘penalty notices’ issued pursuant to a Public Health Order will not result in a criminal conviction being recorded against the offender.

The relevant fines applicable to offences under the Orders are outlined in Schedule 4 of the Public Health Regulation 2012. 

Whilst penalty notices can be challenged in court, if found guilty, you may be convicted with a criminal record and face a maximum penalty of up to 6 months in prison and/or an $11,000 fine for failing to comply with a public health order, pursuant to section 10 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).

In the case of a continuing offence, on top of this maximum penalty, a further $5,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

Businesses or ‘corporations’ face a maximum penalty of $55,000, with a further $27,500 applicable for each day the offence continues. 

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