The ACT government has no extra fast COVID tests on order for Canberra, no plans for free distribution | Canberra Times

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ACT has not placed additional orders to increase its stock of rapid COVID-19 tests and is not yet considering issuing the tests for free. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the territory had a relatively small stock of the tests, and would further consider ordering more in the coming days. “Currently, we have a stockpile of rapid antigen tests, but they are there for a reason, and we do not currently intend to provide rapid antigen tests to people,” Stephen-Smith said. “I think there is a fairly limited supply, but there is some supply available.” Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT’s Emergency Management Committee for the Cabinet would meet on Thursday ahead of an urgent national Cabinet meeting and would consider rapid antigen testing. The Minister of Health acknowledged that at the moment it was difficult to find the tests for sale in Canberra due to high demand. “People will definitely have to shop around, or almost certainly will have to shop around to grab the quick antigen tests,” she said. “However, some people already want them at home. The reason we are not in stock is that many people have actually already gone out and bought the quick antigen tests.” Stephen-Smith held a press conference at the same time as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the federal government would subsidize rapid antigen COVID tests. Morrison said the Commonwealth would seek a 50/50 funding split with state governments to make quick antigen testing free. The move is designed to remove the reliance on PCR testing, which has been under pressure during the Christmas period. Sir. Morrison said subsidizing the cost of rapid testing, which has been in Australia since August for COVID-19, would be on the National Cabinet’s agenda on Thursday. The federal government has allocated $ 375 million to provide faster testing for the national stock. Victoria has secured 34 million quick COVID tests and will hand them out to its citizens from the end of January. Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the state planned to make the tests widely and freely available. Mr. Foley said the tests would help maintain the “gold standard” for testing in Victoria, and took a step back against the federal government for not going up to “fill the gap”. READ MORE: ACT reported 138 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 1028. There are four people in the hospital in ACT, but none are on intensive care. Demand for rapid antigen testing is expected to increase as other states move to require a negative rapid test result before crossing the border. ACT residents traveling to Queensland will only require a rapid antigen test to meet the January 1 border requirements. Test clinics in the ACT have faced overwhelming demand amid growing numbers of cases and pressure from travelers trying to meet pre-arrival test requirements in other states. However, health authorities have wound up risk assessments of the site of exposure back, which will mean fewer Canberrans are required to arrive for testing. Ms Stephen-Smith admitted on Wednesday that ACT would miss some COVID-19 cases in the community, but said the relatively high test positivity rate was not an issue in the context of ACT’s strong vaccination rate. “In the past, we were on a very aggressive repression strategy. Now we have to manage the fact that we have community transmission in our community,” she said. “Obviously, we are not going to establish frameworks where we think they are actually contributing to a rapid escalation of case numbers, because that does not make the work easier; it does make it harder.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in ACT is free for all to access. However, we rely on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, sign up here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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