Kilmore District Health executive assistant Stephanie and chief executive Arish Naresh gave out free rapid antigen tests at Kilmore Village on Saturday.

Representatives of Kilmore District Health, KDH, were out in the community last week, distributing free Rapid Antigen Tests, RATs, to help residents.

Attending locations including Kilmore Village, Wallan Customer and Library Centre and Broadford Customer and Library Service Centre, representatives from KDH gave out the tests to residents to help reduce the reliance on polymerase chain reaction, PCR, testing at Kilmore Hospital.

KDH chief executive Arish Naresh said distributing the tests at various locations would help make them more accessible for people who needed them.

“We’ve found that a lot of people are starting to get a bit anxious that they will not be able to get free rapid tests through the Commonwealth,” he said.

“From what I’ve heard from the staff is that either people have a lot of rapid tests in their house or they have none, so that’s creating disparities within the community.

“We hope that by doing this, more people will test and isolate earlier so there’s less spread of the virus.”

Mr Naresh said people were able to pick up RATs from KDH’s urgent care centre once they have registered. He hoped being out in public would help spread awareness for that service.

He said while KDH was aiming to have more RATs available for the community, the regular testing service was still running at Kilmore Health for more urgent cases.

“The best response is when people test at home quickly isolate, but then there’s times when they test and still get a negative result even when they’re symptomatic,” Mr Naresh said.

“If they are in the vulnerable population groups, they can come up to the hospital for a PCR test, which actually is much more reliable in helping you to find out whether you’re positive or negative.

“It’s resource intensive because we have to be out and about with staff coming out on the weekends as well, but it’s something we need to do to get the word out there to keep the community safe.”