Millions of Covid-19 rapid antigen tests have arrived with more on the way as Australians battle for to get their hands on one.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews welcomed the much-anticipated delivery of three million antigen tests on Monday as the state recorded a 20 per cent drop in new infections to 22,429.
The tests will be distributed to frontline health workers, emergency services, and staff in the disability and aged care services from Tuesday.
Millions more tests will soon arrive in Victoria to increase accessibility and ease the pressure on PCR testing clinics.
However, the other millions of Victorians, and others around Australia, will continue to pay soaring price of up to $100 for a single test after Prime Minister Scott Morrison flatly refused to make them all free like in other countries.
Health and emergency services workers will be among the first to get access to free rapid antigen tests after three million kits arrived in Victoria (pictured a Melbourne paramedic)
‘I’ve got some good news,’ Mr Andrews captioned photos of the special delivery in a Melbourne warehouse.
‘Three million free rapid antigen tests have landed in Victoria, and 41 million more are on the way.
‘Thousands have already gone to our hospitals and emergency services to help get more of our most critical workers back to work safely.
‘And over the last week more than 400,000 have been distributed for free at PCR testing sites to those who need them.’
Victoria was the first state in Australia to distribute free rapid antigen tests to the community through testing clinics with 91,000 distributed on Sunday alone.
28 million more RATs are on their way to Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced
‘Thanks to our bulk order of tests, Victorians will soon be able to reliably obtain a free RAT. As more tests progressively arrive, we’ll continue to roll them out to those who need them,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘As we continue to test, there’s nothing more important than getting your third dose – it will not only give you better protection against Covid-19, but also significantly slow transmission.’
Mr Andrews’ tweet sparked a divided response.
Thank goodness Dan… You’re a hero,’ one teacher commented.
‘Even just knowing this news helps to relieve stress… If only some could be portioned out to schools for teachers, that would relieve even more stress.’
Many used the news to take a swipe at Mr Morrison, who rejected calls to make rapid antigen tests free for everyone.
‘Why does Dan Andrews always have to clean up Morrison’s messes? What use is Morrison?’ one wrote.
Another joked: ‘Hey Dan, better hide them from Morrison or he might steal – sorry I mean requisition them.
The Victorian Premier described the arrival of three million free RATs (pictured) as ‘good news’
But not everyone was supportive of the Victorian premier.
‘Hopefully the next 41 million are on the same shipment as the 4,000 ICU beds you promised and we’re still waiting,’ one person commented.
Another added: ‘I got excited when I read you got good news. I thought you had left the government.’
Mr Morrison described the critical shortage of rapid antigen tests as ‘not unique.’
‘The rapid antigen tests are in short supply all around the world. This is not something that is unique to Australia going through it,’ he told 2GB on Monday.
‘It’s part of dealing with Omicron. Omicron has disrupted everything.’
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received more than 1,800 complaints about price gouging since Christmas Day with some retailers going as far as refusing to give customers a receipt.
The consumer watchdog has put businesses selling rapid tests on notice, amid reports of individual rapid antigen tests selling for $100.
Wholesale costs range between $3.95 and $11.45 a test.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating reports of price gouging of rapid antigen tests, which are in short supply
‘At the extreme end, we have received reports or seen media coverage of tests costing up to $500 for two tests through online marketplaces, and over $70 per test through convenience stores, service stations and independent supermarkets, which is clearly outrageous,’ ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.
‘There are several businesses that have repeatedly come to our notice thanks to the information provided by the public. We are asking those businesses to urgently explain the prices they are charging.’
Almost of the price gouging reports were regarding pharmacies with almost 900 complaints.
Convenience stores, tobacconists and supermarkets accounted for 15 per cent of complaints, as did petrol stations.
The ACCC has contacted more than 40 test suppliers, major retailers and pharmacy chains seeking information about their costs, current pricing, and stock availability.
These boxes of RATs delivered to Victoria this week will be distributed to health and emergency service workers within days