Sunrise's Edwina Bartholomew grills PM on rapid tests: 'Can't access them'
Edwina Bartholomew and Matt Shirvington have put the PM on the spot during a discussion about the country's escalating Covid cases on Wednesday morning.
The Sunrise hosts quizzed Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the massive queues seen at testing clinics in places such as NSW as well as whether rapid antigen tests should be provided to all Aussies for free.
PM 'looking at' making rapid tests free
Rapid antigen tests start at around $15 for one or $25 for a two-pack and are available at many pharmacies and major supermarkets such as Coles, however, many retailers are reportedly low or out of stock.
Former Olympian Matt pointed out that at-home Covid tests are already free in the UK and that US President Joe Biden had just made half a billion tests available to Americans at no cost.
"Are you considering doing the same here?" Matt asked the PM.
Instead of providing a clear answer, Mr. Morrison said that the government was 'looking at all options' before redirecting the conversation.
"We're looking at all of these options and we've never had a set and forget policy when it comes to managing the pandemic," he said.
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He went on to outline the ways the government had supported citizens and healthcare workers throughout the pandemic, and mention that the NSW and Victorian hospital systems are 'standing up well' to the spike in cases.
Mr. Morrison said that it was summertime, unlike in the northern hemisphere where it's winter, which is an 'advantage' because people can get together outdoors where the risk of transmission is lower.
Edwina then jumped in to steer the PM back to the lack of accessibility to at-home tests and how this is causing people to flock to PCR testing clinics instead.
"With the rapid antigen test, people can't access them anywhere and they're clogging up those lines. We're seeing a clinic in Albert Park [in Melbourne] already closed this morning before it even opened.
"So do we have a stockpile of [rapid antigen tests]? I know a lot of money has been given out already, could we give some more?"
Again, the PM said that the matter was under consideration before shifting the spotlight to the interstate travel rules that require travellers to have a positive PCR test before entering another state.
"But I would also stress we've got to get some commonality between the states and territories about how they're requiring these PCR tests," he said.
"The requirements for people to be getting these [PCR tests] to travel is putting enormous pressure, particularly on New South Wales and in Victoria, and that's a big reason you're seeing a lot of those queues. The states are going to have to talk to each other about that because decisions being made in one state are impacting on the testing resources in other states," he added.
Mr. Morrison said that these 'practical issues' would be addressed at the emergency national Cabinet meeting later today.
He urged Aussies to stay calm, follow 'good common sense behaviours', and get their vaccine booster shots.
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