Australians desperate for tests amid Omicron surge
January 5, 2022 4:45 am
Australians have expressed anger at facing COVID test shortages and price-gouging as the nation battles its most widespread infections yet.
Last month Australia lifted most of its strict domestic restrictions after reaching a 90% vaccination target.
But the Omicron variant has fuelled a surge in cases – now totalling over 25,000 a day.
That’s put intense pressure on testing and hospital systems, causing anxiety around the country.
PCR tests have always been widely available in Australia, but last week the government began limiting who is eligible to receive them for free.
It followed tens of thousands of people spending hours queuing outside testing clinics around Christmas.
Isolation times blew out and test results were delayed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new rules aimed to alleviate pressure on the system.
But it has increased reliance on lateral flow tests – known locally as rapid antigen tests (RATs) – which people have to pay for.
Mr Morrison’s government has been heavily criticised for a supply shortage, and many instances of price-gouging have been reported.