According to a proposal being discussed by the national cabinet, only people who reside with a confirmed COVID-19 case would be listed as close contacts. Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared Omicron had ushered forth a “new phase” in Australia’s fight against COVID-19, and the federal government will subsidise quick antigen tests. As the number of cases rises at an exponential rate across the country, Mr Morrison has moved up a meeting with state and territory leaders that was set for next week. On Wednesday, Mr Morrison stated that they would consider a proposed national definition of a close contact, which would only include those living with, or in the care of, a verified COVID-19 case for more than four hours.
A person who went to a restaurant for a short time while a COVID-19 was there would not be placed into isolation. “We can’t just take everyone out of circulation because they happen to be in a specific location at a specific moment,” he said. Only symptomatic persons, international newcomers, healthcare personnel, and vulnerable populations would be recommended PCR tests. Close contacts would only have to quarantine for seven days following exposure and undertake quick antigen tests on days six and twelve. Mr Morrison said Omicron posed a tough challenge to Australians than earlier strains of the virus because it was highly contagious but less likely to cause significant symptoms.
He said the Commonwealth would try to help by subsidising rapid antigen testing, which is less precise than PCR tests but has a faster turnaround time. Mr Morrison said that the Commonwealth would seek a 50/50 financial split with state governments in order to provide quick antigen testing free of charge. The move is intended to reduce reliance on PCR testing, which has been strained over the holiday season. Mr Morrison said on Thursday that subsidising the cost of COVID-19 quick testing, prevalent in Australia since August, will be on the national cabinet agenda.
The federal government has set up $375 million to help the national stockpile get more quick tests. Mr Morrison explained that “state governments are responsible for securing those tests, or the supplies that go with those tests, or the arrangements that go with the conduction of those tests, and the Commonwealth pays those expenses 50/50.” “The same can be said about RAT tests.” Four million fast tests had already been delivered, and another six million would be delivered “very shortly,” according to the Prime Minister. “In our conversations with our private-sector suppliers, they inform us that big supplies are on the way.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration will conduct more testing in the coming months. On Wednesday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet agreed that a national approach to closed casual contact definitions and isolation lengths was necessary. Premier Perrottet pleaded with NSW citizens who were not experiencing symptoms to avoid PCR lines, which may take up to four days to complete.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)