The major change coming to Covid testing clinics

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  • Scott Morrison
    30th Prime Minister of Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a raft of changes to testing requirements across Australia, including one major shake-up to testing clinics.

On Wednesday following National Cabinet, Mr Morrison announced in the coming weeks, Australians seeking to get tested at testing sites may receive a rapid antigen test (RAT) instead of a PCR test.

He said swapping over to rapid tests at testing sites and centres will relieve the pressure off pathology labs.

"You won't have to wait for the test results to come back from the lab," the prime minister told reporters.

"This will take the pressure off the pathology labs which are out there, which will speed up the test results for PCR tests. 

"They are needed for those who are essential to get PCR tests. We are looking to move the queues quicker, moving to get results quicker and for those having their rapid engine tests at a testing centre."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference following a national cabinet meeting. Source: AAP
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference following a national cabinet meeting. Source: AAP

No PCR required after positive RAT, interstate testing dropped

He also flagged Australian jurisdictions, bar Western Australia, would "move away" from requiring a RAT for interstate travel.

"Now this doesn't apply to WA — WA were not in attendance at the meeting today. They are in a very different situation to the rest of the country," Mr Morrison said.

International arrivals will also not need to get a second test and truck drivers will not be required to get tested every seven days.

Leaders present at national cabinet also agreed to drop the requirement of people testing positive with a rapid test needing to get a PCR test.

Local residents line up at a drive-in testing center in Brisbane, Friday, December 31, 2021. Omicron continues to be the dominant strain of the virus, accounting for almost 80 per cent of the state's identified cases
People who test positive with a rapid antigen test won't need to get a PCR test. Source: AAP

"If you are a close contact and had a rapid antigen test and it is positive, you do not need to get a PCR test to confirm that. That will take pressure off PCR testing lines," he said.

However Mr Morrison said if you are a symptomatic close contact, you must get a rapid test at a testing clinic, as opposed to going out in public and buying one.

Following shortages of rapid tests, Mr Morrison announced some 200 million would be coming to Australia in the next two months.

Following outrage over RAT kits not being accessible to all, Mr Morrison announced some Australians will be eligible to receive 10 free tests from pharmacies. 

Over the next three months, concession card holders will be able to access up to 10 test from pharmacies, with up to five tests a month, maximum.

Rapid tests have been made free in countries such as the US, UK and Singapore and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has called for them to be free in Australia.

The PM also announced any retailer or pharmacy caught inflating the price of rapid tests by more than 120 per cent will be subject to a $66,000 fine.

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