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RATs an endangered species despite PM’s push



Mr Morrison said the responsibility of procuring the rapid tests for the wider public would remain with the states as demand for testing in NSW skyrockets, leading to hours-long waits at clinics and chemists being stripped of the RATs. He said the Commonwealth would push for a new nationwide definition of a close contact, which would require rapid antigen tests to be used on day six of isolation and day 12 after contact. But the change – alongside the Queensland Government’s Wednesday announcement that travellers could enter the state with a negative RAT instead of a PCR test – is set to heap further pressure on bone-dry supplies of rapid tests, with chemists across Sydney sold out amid a run on the kits.Health Minister Brad Hazzard even urged residents travelling to Queensland to “get out of the queue” for PCR tests to instead source RAT tests, in an additional test of supply. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia this week warned the country faced a dire shortfall of the tests in coming weeks, as the Prime Minister warned off hoarders “going out and bulk purchasing” RATs. But while he said the Federal Government would tip $375 million into creating a national RAT stockpile, he reiterated it was up to the states to beef-up their own supplies. “Where a RAT test is required state governments as always (are) responsible for securing the RAT tests, providing them to people, and we’ll share the cost 50/50 with the state government,” he said, adding procurement of RATs by NSW and Victoria was “their job”. He said the Commonwealth had responsibility for providing tests in residential aged care facilities and “a range of other high risk settings we’re responsible for”. “I welcome the fact the New South Wales government is doing what they’re doing, the Victorian government is doing what they’re doing. That’s their job and I’m glad they’re doing it.” However, he alluded that states could dip into the national RATs stockpile “where there’s issues around distribution … as it has been for masks and PPE”. Daily Telegraph – News Feed latest episodeMr Morrison also played down concerns of a drought of RAT kits, saying the delivery of 34 million tests to Victoria was “imminent, just as the six million (the Commonwealth) has coming in also are”. Mr Morrison said an order for 20 million tests by the NSW Government will “come over the course of this month”.Mr Morrison said he also expected private businesses to bring in “tens of millions” of tests into the country in the coming weeks. Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley earlier launched a broadside at the Morrison Government for not aiding its purchase of 34 million RAT tests, with The Australian reporting him saying: “Sub-national governments just don’t bring the same kind of buying power grunt that national governments do”. The Queensland government on Wednesday announced NSW holiday-makers heading into the state after January 1 no longer need a negative PCR test to enter, which should ease the pressure on NSW testing queues.“There is no reason and no need and you should not be in any of those queues for PCR testing,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said.“There are many people who are lining up in those queues that do not need to be there.”Health Minister Brad Hazzard said pathology labs were struggling with a backlog of tests. “If you’re going to Queensland, and you’re in the queue, get out of the queue, you don’t need to be there,” he said. NSW Health Pathology’s Professor Dominic Dwyer said testing pressures had meant laboratories were no longer able to use measures designed to boost testing capacity. “The number of staff in the laboratory are finite, this is highly technical work. We can’t just pull them off the shelf,” he said. Prof Dwyer said the labs were unable to rely on “pooling” to fast-track results because case numbers were simply too high.“What we mean by pooling is for example if you had twenty tests that come into the lab, you can take four or six or two of those and combine them and do a PCR on that combined sample. So you test four people at the same time. If that test is negative, then all four samples in the pool are negative. If they are positive, you have to go back and check each of those individual ones,” he said. The Prime Minister said part of the major pivot to RATs over PCR tests was to ease pressure on overwhelmed testing clinics.“What this will do is alleviate those queues that people are in, and make sure that people who need to be there can be there and get those tests,” he said.“And people who don’t need to be there can be at home, somewhere else.”Opposition leader Anthony Albanese on Wednesday slammed the government over a “lack of leadership” in purchasing the tests.“It is absolutely extraordinary that the federal government are not providing any support for the purchasing of rapid antigen tests,” Mr Albanese said on Wednesday.NED-5192-DT-App-Banner

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