Mask and RATS tests now free

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The New Zealand government has announced that medical masks and rapid antigen tests will now be free.

The move comes as the country fights a growing wave of Omicron infections.

It is hoped that free masks will encourage people to use them more and that with free RATS, people will test more often.

Previously, people had to have been exposed or symptomatic to be eligible for the tests. The free mask measures will cover N-95 or P2 masks for anyone considered clinically vulnerable, and standard medical masks for others.

Covid response minister Ayesha Verrall said these were “the most effective measures we have. They are simple, but if we all do them, we can lessen our illness burden and the burden on our health system.”

RATs and masks will be available from community providers, including marae, testing stations, and a selection of local pharmacies.

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