Covid-19 rapid antigen tests won't arrive in NSW until February
Dominic Perrottet has urged to drop its tourism testing requirement as residents are forced to queue for hours for PCR swabs.
The premier said he continues to have ‘productive’ chats with Queensland leader Annastacia Palaszczuk about accepting rapid antigen tests which take 15 minutes and can be done at home.
However, he warned that an order of 20million rapid tests will not arrive in NSW until the end of January, raising the possibility that testing queues may last another month.
Sydney residents queue to take Covid-19 PCR tests in the CBD on Tuesday
Rapid tests are currently available at pharmacies and supermarkets but are scarce and cost at least $10 per swab.
NSW has been plagued by testing delays with queues of up to five hours due to increased demand over the holidays.
Mr Perrottet said many of the people waiting in line are not sick but just need to prove they are negative to get into Queensland and urged Ms Palaszczuk to relax her rules.
‘New South Wales and Victoria are finding it very difficult at the moment because of the pressure on the testing system,’ he said in a press conference on Tuesday.
‘A significant proportion of that is tourism tests.I have continued my productive discussions with premiers across the country in relation to the test — we want that to move to a rapid antigen test.’
South Australia has already scrapped PCR testing requirements for entry but Queensland has said it will not change until January 1.
‘If there is any way we can bring that forward, that would be appreciated,’ he said.
‘It is clogging up the system.It is putting people in lengthy queues that are not necessary’.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) has said she will not budge on the rules until January 1
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says lab capacity and staff time is being taken up by testing perfectly healthy travellers, meaning wait times are being pushed out, deterring sick people from getting a swab.
Testing of symptomatic people is one of Australia’s key defences against Covid but is being compromised by unnecessary travel testing, according to Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.
Premier Palaszczuk has admitted 10 per cent of NSW tests are for people travelling to Queensland.
Earlier on Tuesday Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Ms Palaszczuk was acting like a dictator for refusing to budge.
‘Queensland is beautiful one day, run by Premier Palaszczuk the next,’ he told Sunrise.
‘The whole point is this is creating chaos.They should be using rapid antigen testing. They should be thinking their way around this.’
NSW residents queue for testing in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday
Mr Joyce said the testing requirement makes no sense when Queensland recorded 1,158 cases on Tuesday and is living with Covid.
‘They’ve got thousands of cases in Queensland.Thousands. So this is just out of control. They should be able to do cbd gummies work on pain a rapid antigen test. They say they’ll bring it in on the first (of January). It’s the 28th, what are we waiting for?
‘What will happen on the 29th or the 30th or the 31st that they cannot do today?Alignment of the planets? It is dictatorial process that Annastacia Palaszczuk is doing.’
Mr Joyce, who caught Covid in the UK earlier this month and recovered with only minor symptoms said: ‘I have had COVID. Omicron, is not a big issue, it really isn’t.’
On Monday Mr Hazzard called the Queensland requirement ‘stupid’.
He accused the Sunshine State leader of playing ‘raw politics’ by insisting all arrivals present negative PCRs tests, despite the demand putting huge strain on healthcare services.
NSW has seen more than 600,000 PCR tests conducted since Christmas Eve, with one quarter of all swabs given to healthy travellers looking to hop the border for a summer getaway.
Cars line up along Campbell Parade ahead of the opening of the COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach on December 28