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Tasmania to make RATs primary virus test

Tasmania will shift to rapid antigen tests as the primary tool for diagnosing coronavirus, following a recent national cabinet decision to alter testing requirements.

Premier Peter Gutwein made the announcement on Thursday, one day after the national cabinet decision, and said more details would be provided on Friday.

"Tasmania will shortly be moving to rapid antigen testing as the primary diagnostic tool to detect cases of COVID-19," he said in a statement.

He said people who test positive on a rapid antigen test (RAT) will be considered a case of COVID-19 and will be subject to the same requirements as a positive PCR-recorded case.

Mr Gutwein said RATs will be free to anyone in Tasmania in the same way PCR testing has been.

Anyone requiring a test - people who are symptomatic or a close contact - can arrange a RAT or PCR test by contacting the public health hotline.

Mr Gutwein said people who return a positive RAT must register their result through the public health hotline or the state's coronavirus website.

They will then be able to access care and be eligible for financial assistance.

Mr Gutwein said PCR tests will remain available for people who cannot access a RAT, cannot use one, are having trouble interpreting the result or have been clinically directed to have a PCR test.

"Tasmania's PCR testing capacity will continue to be maintained to continue responding to the current level of transmission," he said.

A statewide distribution model is being finalised to ensure people can access RATs, Mr Gutwein said.

Tasmania has increased its order for RATs to five million.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday people who return a positive COVID-19 result from a RAT no longer need to have their infection confirmed with a PCR test.

Tasmania's testing clinics have been unable to meet a surge in demand, with health authorities conceding the true number of active cases is likely double the recorded figure.

The state reported 751 new cases on Thursday, pushing the number of active cases to 3534.

The daily case figure is a drop from Wednesday's record of 867.

One patient is being treated in hospital specifically for coronavirus symptoms, while four other people are in hospital for unrelated medical conditions.

Of the active infections, 374 are being monitored at home and 64 are staying in community management facilities.

Remote King Island, which has a population of about 1700, recorded 30 fresh infections after a positive case visited several large events.

Labor opposition health spokeswoman Anita Dow said the government had promised testing capacity but has fallen short.

"The premier has once again moved the goalposts, with (the) announcement a sign of the extreme pressure and stress on our health workers and health system," she said.

Tasmania had no cases when it reopened to mainland hotspots on December 15.

© AAP 2022