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Medical staff performing coronavirus screen checks at Perth airport. Image: Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has introduced antigen screening at its Perth Airport operations control centre in response to last week’s COVID-19 lockdown in Western Australia.

This involves a nasal swab to detect the presence of COVID-19 early in the virus’ life cycle and is part of the mining giant’s three-level screening protocols at the operations control centre.

It provides results in approximately 15 minutes, allowing for an efficient solution for large-scale screening, such as for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers leaving for and returning from shifts.

“To help ensure the health and safety of our workforce and the communities where we operate, we have reinstated COVID-19 screening protocols that will apply to all essential workers,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson said.

“All essential workers must undertake and pass three levels of screening, including a temperature check, questionnaire and antigen screening ahead of travelling to our operations.

“Our COVID-19 response team, together with medical and health experts are working to safely remobilise our essential workers to Rio Tinto sites in accordance with Western Australian government directions.”

The antigen screening is therapeutic goods administration (TGA) approved, and Rio Tinto has worked closely with health officials to implement its use at Perth Airport.

Any test results that return positive will be forwarded on for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory testing for further verification.

Western Australian FIFO workers received the go-ahead to return to their regular rosters last weekend as a five-day snap lockdown on the Greater Perth, Peel and South-West regions was lifted.