Connect with us


Simple change that could ease Covid testing pain



It comes as the state opposition call on the Victorian government to immediately suspend all advertising on major projects and instead funnel the money into creating mobile testing and vaccine hubs.More than $7.7m was spent spruiking Victoria’s Big Build in the 2020-21 financial year, according to the Department of Transport annual report. Almost $1.9m of that went to promoting level crossings, while $560,000 was used to promote the trouble-plagued West Gate Tunnel project.Advertisements on the Metro Tunnel, Regional Rail Revival and Sunbury Line Update cost the taxpayer over $1.5m, while $1.4m was used to promote the North East Link project.Opposition leader Matthew Guy said taxpayer money should be put to better use to ensure people can enjoy a summer with minimal disruption. Mr Guy said the current delays plaguing the system were “unacceptable”.“With testing centres in chaos and vax hubs closed, Victorians aren’t getting the summer to recover they deserve,” he said.“Mobile hubs can quickly and easily support communities where demand is highest and help keep us open and safe.“Government spruiking of blown-out projects is not the priority, getting Victorians tested and vaccinated is.”By 10am on Monday, about 20 testing sites had temporarily closed because they were “over capacity”, while another five were estimating waiting times of up to three hours.But health experts have called on the government to shift its test approach, with one doctor revealing it was “increasingly apparent” the current PCR model to detect cases was “no longer fit for purpose”.Melbourne GP Nathan Pinskier, who is the principal of Onsite Doctor which provides a range of testing and vaccination services in the community, said the benefits of substituting rapid antigen testing for PCR “would certainly include eliminating the absurdly long queues seen at testing centres”.“This simply does not happen to the same extent in the UK, Europe and the US that are far less reliant on PCR testing,” Dr Pinskier said.“In light of the decision to no longer pursue an elimination strategy – other than perhaps in WA – there needs to be a reassessment of the purpose of testing.”PCR testing is widely referred to by health bureaucrats as the “gold standard” because of its ability to pick up asymptomatic individuals, but Dr Pinskier said that benefit was “significantly reduced” if people become reluctant to present until symptoms become so severe or where people are turned away because testing capacity is reached. “Its portrayal as the poor cousin of testing has resulted in a failure to fully recognise its ongoing and essential role as we open up, even with high levels of vaccination and mandates,” he added.“The question that should be asked is whether the odd additional positive case detection by a PCR testing regimen outweighs the advantages of the far greater convenience, significantly reduced cost, earlier detection and far greater flexibility of rapid antigen testing. In a non-lockdown environment, the reality is that the widespread use of rapid antigen testing will almost certainly result in more testing and detection, not less.”The Department of Health this week sent out an “unclear” message to “lower risk contacts” which recommended that asymptomatic people who couldn’t access a PCR testing centre, but maintain standard settings have not changed.Government Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who was the only politician to front the media on Monday, said it didn’t necessarily reflect a “shift in policy”.Meanwhile, the Department said they were unable to foreshadow any changes on whether rapid tests would be made free to all Victorians.They are currently provided at state-run testing sites for anyone declared a contact at a workplace, education or childcare centre.

Source link