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Rapid testing should be used as screening tool in latest outbreak

As the latest outbreak of COVID-19 grows, the Andrews Labor Government is hunting for cases, primarily in 3 local government areas in Melbourne’s south. The Government is encouraging everyone to get tested, symptomatic or not. But with almost 450,000 people in these areas, utilising PCR tests alone will take several days to get everyone tested and identify positive cases of COVID-19.

It’s time the Andrews Government implements the Liberal Nationals’ plan of using rapid antigen testing as a screening tool. This has been used successfully around the world as part of the testing mix and to be able to manage COVID19.

Primary close contacts should still be having PCR tests, but rapid testing can be used for those not currently linked to a known case or outbreak. If the test comes back positive or they have symptoms, they should have a PCR test.

Having almost 450,000 people descend on testing sites at once will overwhelm testing capacity, result in primary close contacts potentially missing out on testing, and potentially allow more spread to occur as people aren’t isolating.

By using rapid testing, these 450,000 people can quickly be tested and isolated, capacity will be freed up in pathology labs so that PCR tests of primary close contacts and symptomatic cases are prioritised, and it will also support outreach workers and vulnerable homeless communities, which we know have been caught up in the latest outbreak.

It’s time for the Andrews Government to adopt the Liberal Nationals’ sensible plan of incorporating rapid antigen testing into the testing mix as we can’t afford to wait several days for testing to occur when outbreaks occur.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier:

“It’s clear the current COVID-19 outbreak is worsening. The Government needs to be getting ahead of the spread and we know that’s best achieved through testing, tracing and isolating.

“Asking 450,000 Melburnians to get tested at once will overwhelm our COVID-19 testing sites and potentially delay the identification of positive cases.

“The Andrews Government needs to adopt a common-sense approach to testing and incorporate rapid antigen testing into the testing mix, so that more people can be screened in a shorter period of time.”

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