Thai health authorities have unlocked sales restrictions on COVID-19 antigen test kits to improve access to this screening tool as the country plans to reopen. The general public will soon be able to purchase approved test kits from shops and online stores, in addition to pharmacies.
The Ministry of Public Health has released a ministerial regulation, allowing sales of self-test Antigen Test Kits (ATK) for COVID-19 at regular shops and online stores, as opposed to the previous restriction under which the kits had to be sold at a pharmacy.
The new regulation will improve the availability of this screening tool, while also allowing the general public to receive the kits directly from authorized manufacturers or importers.
Dr Paisarn Dunkum, Secretary General of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), said the test kits will be a crucial tool enabling businesses to operate safely under the government’s COVID-19 Free Setting policy.
Customers are advised to check the list of approved test kits on the Thai FDA’s website before purchasing. Approved kits should bear a Thai label with clear instructions for self-use.
While the kits are now allowed to be sold at more places, businesses or individuals who wish to advertise such products must seek approval from the Thai FDA first. The promotional materials must clearly state the FDA’s advertisement approval number.
Antigen test kits have been used widely in Thailand for screening purposes. In most cases, people testing positive using these kits will need a subsequent RT-PCR test for confirmation.
The kits are recommended for those with a high chance of contracting COVID-19, such as workers in factories, restaurants, and those visiting densely populated areas.
With a higher chance of a false negative result in people who are in the early stages of infection, anyone testing negative using antigen tests is recommended to take the test again after 3-5 days, should they have been in close contact with a confirmed patient, or have been considered at high risk of infection. (NNT)