Health authorities in the ACT will begin collecting the number of positive rapid antigen tests for COVID-19, with people asked to self-report their result with an online form.
But the ACT government will not follow NSW's lead in imposing fines, confident most Canberrans will do the right thing and report their positive result.
Acting Health Minister Chris Steel said the new reporting mechanism would help ACT Health develop a better picture of COVID-19's prevalence in the community and where the virus was spreading.
"In the short term, it will also give us the opportunity to get in touch who have tested positive, to put them in touch with health supports if required," Mr Steel said.
The reporting form is for people who have received a positive rapid antigen test result on or after January 8.
People who are more than 20 weeks pregnant, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 55 and over, unvaccinated and aged 16 and over or significantly immunocompromised will still need a PCR test to confirm their result so they can be eligible for specific treatments if required.
Mr Steel said the ACT government was not considering punitive measures to punish people for failing to report their positive test results, following a decision in NSW to impose $1000 fines on people who fail to notify health authorities of a positive rapid test.
"We've seen that the Canberra community through the pandemic has been incredibly good at complying with health directions and health advice. At this stage, we're not planning on putting in place any new offences. We're simply asking Canberrans and asking people to do the right thing by reporting their positive RAT results to ACT Health," he said.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the move to allow rapid test result reporting would help to reduce long queues for PCR tests, and free up capacity for specific groups who continued to need laboratory confirmed COVID-19 results.
People who test positive for COVID-19 in the ACT on a rapid test have not required a confirmatory PCR laboratory test since Saturday, when authorities moved to accept the home test kits as confirmation of a diagnosis.
Mr Steel on Saturday said the change would save time and reduce the pressure on pathology laboratories in the ACT.
"[Rapid antigen tests] are becoming more available, and we know that significantly more are arriving later this month," Mr Steel said.
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The ACT government expects larger shipments of rapid tests to arrive from NSW and the Commonwealth over the coming week, but is still working out how the tests will be distributed.
Some tests require supervision when they are administered, while a smaller number can be distributed to people to take home and use.
Mr Steel said there would be more detail about the distribution of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 from government testing clinics and centres in the coming weeks, while acknowledging the current shortage of tests available for private sale.
Chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman last week said there would be a smaller emphasis on case numbers from test results in the future, and instead health officials would focus on providing treatment to those who need it as soon as possible after potential self diagnosis.
"It's entirely likely for some groups of people we will assume that they have COVID, based on the fact they have symptoms and they've come into contact with someone with COVID," she said.
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