Consumers are being warned to look out for repackaged COVID testing kits after some were sold in regional New South Wales.

Tamworth resident Tammy Clark had failed to find any rapid antigen tests (RATs) in stock at chemists in town when she went searching further afield.

“We want to do the right thing and keep people safe,” Ms Clark said.

At a service station last week, Ms Clark said she was given the choice of one box of two tests for $48, on display on the counter in boxes, or five tests for $99.

“I figured that the $99 for five was better value — $20 each, even though very expensive,” she said.

“Because we had had no luck finding them in town we just wanted to buy them.”

The tests were handed over in a ziplock bag.

rapid antigen test in zip-lock bag
Deanna Faulks felt pressured to buy the tests due to nationwide supply issues. (Supplied: Deanna Faulks)

Ms Clark posted in a private social media group to warn other people about the suspicious packaging.

The post has since attracted more than 60 comments, with other residents sharing similar experiences with other retailers.

Tamworth’s Deanna Faulks also struggled to find RAT kits locally and searched the Find a RAT website for stock.

“My husband and I drove 60 kilometres each way to purchase them from a service station as they were the only ones available in the northern areas of NSW,” Ms Faulks said.

“It was just two tests in a ziplock bag, clearly out of a bulk pack. It was $42 for both.

“We felt we had no choice as nothing else was available.”

Ms Faulks was advised to make a report to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) but hit a snag.

When reporting an issue on the ACCC’s dedicated rapid antigen test reporting site, a screenshot or receipt is needed.

“We did not receive a receipt, we only have the EFTPOS transaction record.”

Blurred line of responsibility

NSW Police told the ABC they do not have jurisdiction to investigate reports about tampered RAT kits.

“We only have authority to investigate if people do not register their positive RAT to Service NSW, not the selling of kits,” a spokesperson said.

website on laptop
ACCC website asks consumers to upload a screenshot or receipt with their report.(ABC New England: Kemii Maguire)

The advice was mirrored from the offices of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and the state member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson.

According to the Department of Health, the sale of RAT kits falls under the responsibility of the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) – an arm of the department.

A spokesperson said any rapid antigen tests being sold should be in original packaging.

“If test packs are divided and repackaged, it is possible that the test will not work properly,” the spokesperson said.

“Exposure to light or heat will also damage the test.

Customers suspicious of a RAT kit were advised to report their purchase to the TGA or ACCC.

The ACCC said it would not comment on individual cases.

Extracted in full from: NSW residents buy repackaged COVID rapid antigen tests amid ongoing shortage – ABC News