State rolling out millions of rapid antigen tests after trial at public authority

By Jackson Graham

Thursday October 7, 2021

Martin Foley
Victorian health minister Martin Foley says the worst is yet to come for hospital staff and ambos. (AAP Image/James Ross)

Victoria is preparing to expand rapid antigen testing to health services and then to more “particularly risky settings” after a trial at a public sector authority.

Health minister Martin Foley said on Wednesday Victoria was buying 2.2 million rapid antigen tests to be used in hospitals and community healthcare services first, following TGA approval of the tests last week. 

The government has been trialling the tests three times a week on about 1200 workers in its level crossing removal project and at the Royal Melbourne Hospital during emergency triaging. 

“It will then of course not just stop at our healthcare system; it will then be rolled on through a whole-of-government process to other particularly risky settings,” Foley said on Wednesday. 

Schools, child care and corrections are in line for the tests as the program expands. 

Australians over 16 with a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine nudged above 80% for the first time on Wednesday, passing a milestone on the path to double vaccination targets. 

It came as data in Victoria — where the nation’s most active cases are — showed of all 25,000 known cases since July, 84% had not been vaccinated, 11% had one dose of the vaccine and 5% were fully vaccinated. 

“[Vaccination] does massively reduce the risk of you catching COVID, or transmitting it onto another person and of course massively reduces your risk of ending up in hospital,” Victorian COVID commander Jeroen Weimar said. 

The state also changed border restrictions to allow people travelling from areas in NSW and ACT not in lockdown to arrive in Victoria if they have a test within 72 hours and isolate until receiving a negative result. 

People in locked-down areas will also be able to return to Victoria through an online application that requires them to be isolated for 14 days. 

NSW is nearly at its 70% double-dose target and premier Dominic Perrottet, in a press conference on Wednesday, said he was committed to Monday being the milestone when restrictions began to ease rather than any sooner. 

But he did not rule out there were opportunities for changes to the state’s roadmap. 

“There will be further discussions in relation to the roadmap,” Perrottet said, adding those considerations would occur with the crisis cabinet later in the day. 

NSW recorded 10 deaths on Wednesday, Victoria recorded 11 deaths and the ACT one death. 

ACT health minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the number of lives lost in the ACT was six during the current outbreak. 

The territory now has nearly 95% of the population over 16 who have received one coronavirus vaccine.


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