Australia’s politicians have been slammed by panellists on the The Project who blasted the limited supply of rapid antigen tests which has left thousands scrambling for a swab.
Host Hamish Maconald said he was shocked that leaders on a state and federal level had not sufficiently prepared for the onslaught of testing over the festive period, which has turned out to be Australia’s worst outbreak, saying it ‘defies logic’.
Thousands of Australians on summer holiday break have been forced to get tested before attending events, travelling interstate or being reunited with family.
This is on top of the thousands being told to get tested after being deemed a close contact of a known Covid cases, as well as those experiencing symptoms.
Demand for a PCR test in NSW and Victoria in recent days has surged as residents rush to get tested, while rapid antigen tests are increasingly unavailable to buy.
‘The thing that is shocking to me is that this all seems to taking our political leaders at state and federal level by surprise and it defies logic,’ Macdonald said.
Host Hamish Macdonald (left) said he was shocked that leaders on a state and federal level had not sufficiently prepared for the onslaught of testing in the lead-up to Christmas – saying their lack of preparation ‘defies logic’
‘We have known for a long time that we were going to need rapid antigen tests. We knew that we were going to need boosters.
‘And yet there doesn’t seem to be a delivery of RAT tests in terms of what’s available.’
Macdonald said supply of the tests was not the issue, with 2.9 million of the tests delivered to aged care facilities this week – but pharmacy shelves were left bare.
‘So Australians are left in the middle of their Christmas break kind of playing Hunger Games trying to get their hands on these things,’ he said.
Panelist Rachel Corbett explained the health department had said they had ‘sufficient supply’ when asked how many of the tests were stockpiled.
Macdonald said Covid was not ‘taking anyone by surprise’ with reports dating back to October suggesting the country begin introducing the rapid tests.
Pressure on governments to make the kits free and easily accessible have loudened amid long lines at testing clinics and harsh demands on health care workers.
While Victoria and the Northern Territory do give out some home-test kits for free, NSW is the last remaining state to commit to doing the same.
Thousands of Australians on summer holiday break have been forced to get tested before attending events, travelling interstate or being reunited with family (pictured, a RAT test)
Demand for a PCR test in NSW and Victoria in recent days has surged as residents rush to get tested, while rapid antigen tests are increasingly unavailable to buy in shops (pictured, peopke queue for a test in Sydney’s CBD)
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday warned the state wouldn’t receive an order of 20 million rapid antigen tests until the end of January.
Mr Perrottet urged Queensland to drop its tourism testing requirement as residents are forced to queue for hours for PCR swabs, following the move of South Australia.
The tests only take about 15 minutes to return a result and can be done at home, costing anywhere from $30 for a two pack or $50 for a five pack.
But there are fears they are not always accurate, with people reporting having tested negative several times on rapid tests before later testing positive to PCRs.
Mr Perrottet said many of the people waiting in line simply need to prove they are negative to get into Queensland and urged Ms Palaszczuk to relax her rules.
‘New South Wales and Victoria are finding it very difficult at the moment because of the pressure on the testing system,’ he said in a press conference on Tuesday.
‘A significant proportion of that is tourism tests. I have continued my productive discussions with premiers across the country in relation to the test – we want that to move to a rapid antigen test.’
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) on Tuesday warned the state wouldn’t receive an order of 20million rapid antigen tests until the end of January
Australia is understood to be transporting more tests from overseas by air with the tests repackaged from bulk packs so they could be sold in chemists (pictured, test lines in Bondi)
NSW has seen more than 600,000 PCR tests conducted since Christmas Eve, with one quarter of all swabs given to healthy travellers looking to hop the border for a summer getaway.
Australia is understood to be transporting more tests from overseas by air with the tests repackaged from bulk packs so they could be sold in chemists.
Major supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles have capped the amount of tests that can be bought per customer to cope with demand.
Coles customers can only buy two packs each, with five packs of the tests available online but the two packs currently sold out.
Woolworths has restricted customers to ten self-test kits of either five x two packs or two x five packs and has completely sold out online.