Pressure is mounting on the Federal Government to make rapid antigen tests free, as New South Wales clocked yet another daily record of COVID-19 infections yesterday.

There were 23,131 more infections identified yesterday, with a surge in hospitalisations also recorded.

Admissions were up 140 from the day prior, with 1344 coronavirus-positive people needing treatment. Of these 105 are in ICU.

Two more people with the virus died; a man in his 90s from western Sydney and a man in his 70s from the Newcastle area.

Long lines of cars have been filmed snaking around blocks today as Sydney residents seek PCR tests.
Long lines of cars were filmed snaking around blocks yesterday as Sydney residents seek PCR tests. (9News)
It follows 83,376 tests being conducted in the past 24 hours.
It follows 83,376 tests being conducted in the past 24 hours. (9News)
Long testing lines were once again seen outside Sydney clinics with cars snaking around blocks, and more than a dozen clinics closing early in a bid to combat demand.

While only 83,376 tests were reported yesterday, a significant drop from last week’s peak of 157,758 on December 28, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make rapid antigen tests free for citizens amid a shortage and reports of price gouging.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers has called for the government to act.

“He likes to talk about taking personal responsibility – it is time he took responsibility for this mess that he’s made of Rapid Antigen Tests,” Mr Chalmers told Today.

“Too many people are either going undiagnosed or being ripped off, wandering through our shops and chemists when they are contagious and vulnerable, and this must end.”

COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests are near out of stock nationwide with calls for the government to make them more readily available with changes to close contact definitions and isolation time. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

It comes after Australia reached a record high of COVID-19 cases yesterday, reporting 47,738 infections nationwide.

In Victoria COVID-19 infections soared overnight with 14,020 reported — up from 8577 from the day prior.

But there is hope on the horizon. New data from South Africa shows Australia may reach the peak of Omicron variant cases in the coming weeks as other country’s daily infections decline.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy said Australia is not far off seeing the peak of Omicron variant infections.

“We’ll see a peak in Australia within weeks during January in different parts of Australia. Sydney will probably peak first then Melbourne and then other parts of Australia will follow soon after,” he said.

Source: 9News

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