“Panic buying” accusing Australians of rapid antigen test shortage

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected the growing call to provide rapid antigen testing to everyone for free, despite the lack of testing.

With the explosive growth of COVID-19 cases associated with Omicron mutants across the country, state and territory testing clinics are under increasing pressure and the promotion of rapid antigen testing is increasing.

Chemists and other stores have reported a significant shortage of tests, but the Prime Minister said Australia does not make tests free for everyone.

“We are now in a pandemic stage where we cannot avoid just freeing everything,” he told Seven Network on Monday.

“Whenever someone says they want something free, someone will always pay for it and it will be you.”

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Karen Andrews blamed the people’s hoarding for the rapid lack of antigen testing.

“The sooner you stop buying to keep it at home, just in case,” the faster it will return to normal, “she told the 2GB radio.

Approximately 84 million rapid antigen tests are secured by federal-funded state and territory governments.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said 100 million people will be available in the next two months, almost doubling the number of all PCR tests performed nationwide since the pandemic began two years ago. ..

Hunt reiterated that rapid antigen testing is not available to everyone for free.

“If there was an unrestricted flow of fully unpriced products and an infinite number of people had an infinite supply, of course we couldn’t meet that demand,” he told reporters in Melbourne. Told.

However, discussions are underway on the possibility of offering subsidized tests to concession cardholders.

People who need a rapid antigen test for work such as elderly care can also receive it free of charge.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese blamed the prime minister for rapid testing, saying the government was unable to prepare for the transition from PCR testing without securing supply.

“This is a public policy failure never seen before in this country,” he told reporters in Newcastle.

“It’s unbelievable that the government told people not to go and be tested, but to test themselves with a rapid antigen test that isn’t available and affordable.”

Queensland has announced that it has secured 18 million rapid antigen tests. It is provided free of charge on government inspection sites for those classified as close contacts.

Health Minister Martin Foley of Victoria said the federal government had handed over the cost of the matter to the state.

He hopes that the federal government will split Victoria’s costs and distribute 34 million free rapid tests, in line with the existing agreement to share coronavirus-related costs.

The Omicron variant led to a surge in cases and hospitalizations, but the number of patients on ventilator decreased from 54 three weeks ago to 51.

More than 37,000 COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide on Monday. This is the highest daily total in the country since the start of the pandemic.

NSW detected 20,794 new COVID-19 cases and killed four more during the latest reporting period.

Currently, there are 1204 COVID-19 patients in New South Wales hospitals, 95 of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Victoria has reached a new daily record of COVID-19 cases with 8,577 infections and three more deaths.

There are 491 viral hospitalizations in the state, with 56 active in the intensive care unit and 24 on the ventilator.

South Australia enrolled 2552 new cases, 94 in hospitals and 9 in the ICU.

State opposition leader Peter Malinauskas also tested positive.

Tasmania has enrolled 466 new cases. This was a record day of infection in the state, and ACT also set a daily high of 514 cases on Monday.

In Queensland, a record of 4,249 new infections and one death has been reached, with 10 in the intensive care unit, one of whom is on a ventilator.

There were 2 new cases in Western Australia and 58 new cases in the Northern Territory.



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.