If you have a meal or cigarette within half an hour of taking certain COVID-19 home testing kits, you run the risk of an incorrect result.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration says it is important that people do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or brush their teeth for 10 to 30 minutes before using a saliva or oral fluid-based rapid antigen test.
“Not using the test properly may produce an incorrect result,” the country’s medical regulator said in an update to its fact sheet on rapid antigen tests.
There are six saliva or oral fluid testing kits approved for home use in Australia, and 17 nasal swab tests.
The TGA said people needed to follow the instructions that came with their test kits as they differed depending on the manufacturer.
The Orawell rapid saliva test, for example, requires people to abstain from eating, drinking, chewing gum or using any tobacco products for at least 10 minutes before using the test, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The Ecotest COVID-19 antigen saliva kit requires people to wait 30 minutes.
The head of the TGA, Professor John Skerritt, defended the regulator’s timing around self-testing kit approvals at a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.
The first tests for home use were approved in November. The plan was for rapid antigen testing to complement laboratory-processed PCR tests. But state travel requirements and the Omicron outbreak led to blowouts in testing queues and result wait times, leading to a shift to rapid antigen testing for diagnosis for most people.