A comprehensive guide on the coronavirus in Australia
If you are concerned that you may have contracted the coronavirus, then the team at Instant Consult strongly recommend that you read the following information about the disease and what you need to do.

Is It Possible to Get a Covid PCR Test Online?

No, it’s not possible to complete a Covid PCR test entirely online. That’s because the COVID-19 testing process requires a physical swab sample to be collected. You can, however, organise many aspects of getting a COVID PCR test online. This includes securing a referral, finding the latest information about COVID-19 testing, and sometimes booking an appointment at a pathology collection centre.

Telehealth services like Instant Consult also make it easier to secure a COVID PCR test referral without stepping out of your home. All you need to do is hop on a quick video consultation with our AHPRA-accredited Australian doctors, and if deemed necessary, the referral will be sent to your device immediately after.

At Instant Consult, we understand that physically going to a clinic just to get a referral can be a hassle if you’re dealing with COVID-19 symptoms. Plus, it increases the risk of spreading the virus to others.

With our telehealth services, you can secure referrals, get medical advice, and even medical certificates for COVID-19 from the comfort of your home or anywhere in Australia. It’s convenient, safe, and accessible, ensuring you receive timely healthcare support without the need to visit a clinic in person.

doctor online
Doctor online

How Does a COVID-19 PCR Test Work?

A COVID-19 RT PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test is a type of test used to detect the coronavirus. This test looks for the virus’s genetic material in a sample. Usually, the sample comes from a swab taken from your nose or throat.

After collection, your sample is then sent to a lab for analysis. Here, technicians use the PCR method to detect the virus’s genetic material. This involves extracting RNA (the virus’s genetic material) and converting it into DNA using an enzyme. Then, a PCR machine amplifies the DNA, making millions of copies to ensure any trace of the virus is detectable.

Because of this, the PCR test is highly accurate and is considered the most reliable method for detecting active Covid-19 infections. It can detect the virus even if you have only a small amount in your system. This makes it very useful, especially if you have unclear symptoms or were in close contact with someone who tested positive. It’s also used for travel testing and in settings like aged care to keep everyone safe.

When is a PCR Test Appropriate?

PCR tests are just one of the two methods for detecting COVID-19 infection. There’s another testing method called the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), which can either be a self-test or a point-of-care test. While PCR is highly accurate, it can be costly and takes days for the result to come out. RAT, on the other hand, is less accurate, but it’s cheaper and delivers results in 15-30 minutes.
So, if you’re wondering when a PCR test is more appropriate than RAT, here’s a quick guide:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19: Consider a PCR test. It’s the most accurate option and can detect the virus early on, even if the viral load is low.
  • If you’ve been a close contact of a confirmed case: A PCR test is recommended due to its high accuracy. It’s crucial for preventing further spread, especially if you’re asymptomatic.
  • For international travel: Check the requirements of the airline or destination. Many require a negative PCR test result due to its accuracy.
  • For confirmation: If your RAT test yielded positive results, you will need to confirm it with a PCR test.

If you need quick results or have to undergo routine screening for an event, a RAT test might be ideal. It’s also a practical choice for initial screenings as they are more accessible and don’t require lab facilities.

How to Sort Out a Covid PCR Test Online

Sorting out a Covid PCR test online is straightforward and can be done in a few steps. Here’s how:

1. Start with a Referral

According to HealthDirect (Australia’s national health advice service), a GP referral isn’t required to get a PCR test in Australia. However, having one is necessary to get bulk billing (provided that you have a valid Medicare card). So, your first step should be to secure a pathology referral.

If you want it to be quick and convenient, Instant Consult is your go-to. Start by downloading the app or visiting our homepage, then sign up or log in to your account. After this, you can book an online consultation and tell your doctor about your symptoms and other health information. If everything is in order, the pathology request form will be sent to your device right after the consultation.

2. Book Your Test

With your referral, you can then book an appointment at a pathology collection centre. Many centres allow online bookings. Choose a time and place that suits you.

3. Visit the Collection Centre

Go to the collection centre at your booked time. Bring your referral and Medicare card if you have one. The staff will guide you through the process.

4. Sample Collection

A health professional will collect a swab sample from you. This is usually done through the nose or throat. It’s usually quick but might be a bit uncomfortable.

5. Receive Your Results

After your sample is collected, it’s sent to a lab for analysis. The waiting time for results can vary but usually takes from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on the lab’s capacity.

Your test result will be sent directly to us at Instant Consult or your regular GP (if you prefer). Once your results are available, we will inform you right away through SMS, email, or app notification. You will then need to schedule a follow-up consultation so our doctors can explain your results and discuss your next steps.

Depending on your results, they may issue online prescriptions which you can bring to your local pharmacy. In certain cases, they may also order a pathology or radiology test or refer you to a specialist.

What to Do With the PCR Test Results

Depending on your results, here’s what you can do:

Positive Results

According to Australia’s Department of Health and Aged Care, isolation is no longer a legal requirement if you test positive for Covid. However, staying at home is still recommended to protect the people in your community. Here are other things the department recommends:

  • avoid visiting high-risk settings like hospitals for at least 7 days or until the symptoms have subsided
  • avoid contact with high-risk groups
  • wear a mask outside the home
  • avoid going to public areas or using public transport
  • practice good hygiene
  • follow the guidelines provided by your local health department

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recently approved 2 oral antiviral treatments for Covid in Australia. However, the Department of Health requires that you meet certain eligibility criteria to receive these antiviral medications.

Negative Results

  • If you are symptomatic, stay at home until you feel better. Sometimes, a negative result can occur early in an infection.
  • Continue to follow Covid-19 safety measures, such as wearing masks and practising good hygiene.

Also, you may want to consider getting COVID vaccinations. While this is voluntary for most Australians, COVID-19 vaccinations can help reduce the severity of the illness, making it less fatal, especially for high-risk individuals.

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Instant access to chat with a doctor with a comprehensive range of services

With Instant Consult, you can chat with a doctor and get help for a wide range of medical requests, all from the comfort of your home!


Medical Certificates

Are you too ill to come into work and need to give your boss a medical certificate? With Instant Consult you can chat with a doctor and get a medical certificate sent directly to your app’s inbox, all without getting out of bed!



If you need a new prescription or need to update an ongoing one then you can use our app to instantly chat to a doctor who can prepare your prescription promptly!



If you have a medical condition that needs treatment from a specialist, one of our GP’s can send a digital referral straight to your app’s inbox.


Pathology Requests

If you need a blood cell count or to check for STDs/STIs or need any other kind of bloodwork you can easily get a pathology request sent to your inbox by any of our fully licensed online GPs. You can then take the request to the clinic of your choice.


Radiology Requests

If you require any special kind of diagnostic imaging such as a CAT scan or an MRI you can get a request from one of our online GPs which you can then take to your preferred provider.

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