Victoria’s Covid commander has warned rapid antigen tests will not be ‘handed out like lollies’ amid major changes to the state’s testing system. 

Jeroen Weimar said Victoria’s approach to testing would remain a ‘controlled and clinically managed process’ during a Covid-19 update on Sunday. 

The state recorded 44,155 new Covid cases and four deaths as Mr Weimar reminded residents health authorities are not collecting data ‘for the hell of it’. 

Victoria this week began including results from rapid antigen tests done at home in daily case tallies, which accounted for 22,051 of Sunday’s new infections. 

Victoria's Covid10 Commander Jeroen Weimar (pictured) has warned rapid antigen tests will not be 'handed out like lollies' amid major changes to the state's testing system

Victoria's Covid10 Commander Jeroen Weimar (pictured) has warned rapid antigen tests will not be 'handed out like lollies' amid major changes to the state's testing system

Victoria’s Covid10 Commander Jeroen Weimar (pictured) has warned rapid antigen tests will not be ‘handed out like lollies’ amid major changes to the state’s testing system

Jeroen Weimar said Victoria's approach to testing would remain a 'controlled and clinically managed process' during a Covid-19 update on Sunday (pictured, a Sydney health worker)

Jeroen Weimar said Victoria's approach to testing would remain a 'controlled and clinically managed process' during a Covid-19 update on Sunday (pictured, a Sydney health worker)

Jeroen Weimar said Victoria’s approach to testing would remain a ‘controlled and clinically managed process’ during a Covid-19 update on Sunday (pictured, a Sydney health worker)

Mr Weimar explained that when people present to testing facilities a decision is  made on whether they would be offered a PCR or rapid test.

The decision was made after considerations of the person’s close contact status and whether they had symptoms.

‘We’re not opening up palettes of rapid antigen tests and handing them out like lollies,’ Mr Weimar told reporters on Sunday.

‘We are asking people who have symptoms and recording basic data. This is still a controlled and clinically managed process.’

Last week, the PM agreed to provide low income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners with 10 free RATs over a three-month period (pictured, a health worker in Melbourne)

Last week, the PM agreed to provide low income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners with 10 free RATs over a three-month period (pictured, a health worker in Melbourne)

Last week, the PM agreed to provide low income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners with 10 free RATs over a three-month period (pictured, a health worker in Melbourne)

A nationwide shortage of rapid antigen tests has placed mounting pressure on state and federal governments to improve chaotic testing systems. 

Following an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison Australians will no longer need to seek a PCR test if they test positive on a rapid antigen test, and should count themselves as Covid positive.

He also agreed to provide low income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners with 10 free RATs over a three-month period to be collected from pharmacies. 

All Australians who are deemed close contacts or who have symptoms will still be able to access PCR tests from testing clinics, with Mr Morrison stating ‘they have always been free’. 

A nationwide shortage of rapid antigen tests has placed mounting pressure on state and federal governments to improve chaotic testing systems (pictured, people queue for tests)

A nationwide shortage of rapid antigen tests has placed mounting pressure on state and federal governments to improve chaotic testing systems (pictured, people queue for tests)

A nationwide shortage of rapid antigen tests has placed mounting pressure on state and federal governments to improve chaotic testing systems (pictured, people queue for tests)

WHAT ARE THE NEW CHANGES TO TESTS ACROSS AUSTRALIA?

– 10 free Rapid Antigen Tests now available to low-income and vulnerable Australians over a three-month period

– The free tests can be accessed at chemists with a concession or seniors card

– PCR test no longer required to officially confirm a positive RAT result

– Price gouging on RATs banned, with businesses caught doing so facing fines of up to $66,000

– The move comes after the in-demand tests were being sold for as much as $50

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About 30,000 of the self-test kits were handed out to visitors to Victorian test sites on Saturday, as health officials increasingly rely on the data the devices provide. 

Mr Weimer acknowledged a shift in the way states were testing for the virus and said it was due to the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant. 

‘It’s a very different type, it moves in a very different way. It has a far higher attack rate and we’ve seen some numbers that frankly we wouldn’t have dreamt of even two or three months ago,’ he said.

‘That’s why we’ve made a significant and bold step into the rapid antigen testing space across the whole country.’

Mr Weimar said the new data gave health authorities a better understanding of how people were managing their symptoms and were accessing care. 

‘We’re not collecting data for the hell of it,’ he said bluntly. 

‘We’re collecting the data to ensure that people who have got a positive rapid antigen test result can access clinical support and relief that they need.’

Cases in Victoria, which passed NSW with a massive spike to 51,356 on Saturday, dropped 13 per cent to 44,155 on Sunday with four deaths. 

Cases in Victoria, which passed NSW with a massive spike to 51,356 on Saturday, dropped 13 per cent to 44,155 on Sunday with four deaths (pictured, a health worker administers a test)

Cases in Victoria, which passed NSW with a massive spike to 51,356 on Saturday, dropped 13 per cent to 44,155 on Sunday with four deaths (pictured, a health worker administers a test)

Cases in Victoria, which passed NSW with a massive spike to 51,356 on Saturday, dropped 13 per cent to 44,155 on Sunday with four deaths (pictured, a health worker administers a test)

Infections more than doubled this weekend after residents were given the ability to lodge the positive results they received on the at-home testing kits.

NSW will have a similar spike from Wednesday, when residents are encouraged to upload their positive at-home result to Service NSW. 

Meanwhile, 752 Covid patients are in hospital with 104 in intensive care, 23 of whom require ventilation. Four people died overnight with the virus. 

Victoria’s vaccination program for children will start this week with more than 46,000 appointments available ahead of a return to campus in a few weeks time. 

Mr Weimar called for people to get their booster shot, as just 16 per cent of Victorians aged 18 and over were triple-vaccinated.  

Source: DailyMail

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