Widespread shortages of rapid antigen tests has been branded “diabolical” as the nation struggles with staff and supply chain strains.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese lashed out at the Morrison government for failing to secure supply of RATs when the drug regulator gave the green light in September.
“You simply can't get enough rapid antigen tests,” he told reporters in Queensland on Tuesday.
Camera IconRapid at home tests have been in short supply across the nation. NCA NewsWire / Nicholas Eagar Credit: NCA NewsWire
“That is causing a major concern in terms of workforce shortages, adding to it, because if people can‘t get a test and they’re unsure of why it is that they perhaps are feeling unwell, then that’s creating a reluctance and is adding to the labour shortages.”
“What I want is for Scott Morrison to do his job. If he had done his job, then we would have had rapid antigen tests available.”
Mr Albanese said the situation had become “diabolical”.
Camera IconAnthony Albanese says the tests should be free and readily available for Australians. Caitlan Charles Credit: News Corp Australia
“The federal government needs to do better,” Mr Albanese said.
It comes as thousands of people across the country scour supermarkets and pharmacies to get their hands on a rapid test.
Facebook groups have been set up in many of the nation's cities to help users locate and source RATs in their local areas.
The situation has led to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to launch a review into reports that some pharmacies had opened multi-test packs to resell as a single product at an inflated price.
Camera IconThere have been long lines at pharmacies and supermarkets across the country as people hunt for RATs. Nikki Davis-Jones Credit: News Corp Australia
“The TGA has commenced investigations into allegations that Covid-19 test kits are being repackaged and relabelled illegally,” the drug regulator told the St George Shire Standard.
But Scott Morrison has defended his government’s approach to rapid tests, insisting they will not be made free to the broader public.
“I want to stress – anyone who is symptomatic or a close contact gets a free test. Always has, always will,” he said in Canberra on Monday.
Camera IconScott Morrison has defended his approach to RATs. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia
“The additional supplementary tests that people will be getting concessional access to, they are not essential tests. They are discretionary tests.”
In the coming weeks, more than six million concession cardholders will be able to access 10 free tests over a three-month period.Internet Explorer Channel Network