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National Cabinet has agreed to remove the requirement for a PCR test to confirm a positive rapid antigen test result, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said rapid antigen tests would start being used at COVID-19 testing sites to speed up results after the country experienced massive testing backlogs over the past few weeks.

“This will take the pressure off the pathology labs which are out there, which will speed up the test results for PCR tests that are needed for those who are essential to get PCRs,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced changes to PCR testing requirements. (Alex Ellinghausen)

Mr Morrison said the push to provide free access to rapid antigen tests to all was not going to eventuate.

“Universal free access to tests was not agreed by any of the states and territories today, or the Commonwealth. I make that very clear,” he said.

Mr Morrison said concessional free tests would be available at pharmacies to those who have a Commonwealth seniors health card, a healthcare card, a low-income card, a pension concession card, DVA Gold card or a DVA white card.

“There are over 6.6 million Australians who fall into those categories. They will be able to get up to 10 tests over a course of three months, no more than five per month, and they should only be getting those tests there if they are not symptomatic and they are not close contacts,” he said.

He confirmed tests for close contacts and those who are symptomatic were free, as agreed by National Cabinet last week.

“They have always been free. They are the essential tests that are required for public health management,” he said.

“If you are not a close contact, if you are not symptomatic, you do not need to get a test.”

The requirement for a second test post-arrival in Australia from overseas will also be removed.

“They will have, as we said last week, a rapid antigen test on arrival. If that is negative, then they will not be required to have a further test,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said Western Australia did not participate in today’s meeting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
If you return a positive rapid antigen test result, you will no longer need a PCR to confirm it. (Alex Ellinghausen)

The prime minister also announced anyone selling rapid antigen tests at more than a 20 per cent mark up would be in breach of a biosecurity regulation declared by the Health Minister.

“And that carries a penalty of $66,000 and up to five years in jail,” he said.

“We will include rapid antigen test as those products covered by the export controls that we put in place.”

A sign on display advises the public to the requirements of face masks.

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

Mr Morrison said a purchasing restriction of one box of rapid antigen tests per person would be put in place.

Source: 9News

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