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Date when Aussies can access free rapid tests revealed

·2-min read
Scott Morrison speaks, image of pharmacist.
The Prime Minister has announced when people will be able. to access free rapid antigen tests. (Sources: Getty)

Pharmacies will begin supplying free rapid antigen tests to concession card holders from 24 January, as Australia battles exploding COVID-19 cases.

The at-home tests, which generally deliver results within 15 minutes, have been seen to retail for as much as $50 per test, although most are between $10 and $20.

Speaking after meeting with the state and territory leaders, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that people who possess concession cards will be able to access 10 of these tests for free from 24 January.

People holding the Commonwealth seniors health cards, healthcare cards, low income cards, pensioner concession cards, DVA Gold cards and DVA white cards will be eligible.

“That is, to be clear, 10 tests in total over three months with a maximum of five a month. You go to the pharmacy, present your relevant concession card, which we have announced before, and they can process that and provide you with that test from 24 January,” Morrison said on Thursday.

Morrison also announced that certain worker groups including health, aged care and disability workers would be prioritised for access to the publicly acquired rapid tests.

He said the Government has so far acquired 10 million rapid tests, with another 78 million due to arrive.

The categorisation of close contacts will also change, with asymptomatic workers in industries including transport, freight, logistics, emergency services, waste management, food and beverage supplies, telecommunications, education and media allowed to work provided they have returned a negative rapid test.

Treasury modelling shared on Thursday revealed there could be times when up to 10 per cent of the national workforce is required to isolate due to exposure to or infection of COVID-19.

It comes as Australia recorded more than 150,000 new cases overnight, with NSW and South Australia both announcing new rules for people who use rapid antigen tests.

Failure in those states to report a positive result will lead to a $1,000 fine, NSW and South Australia Premiers Dominic Perrottet and Steven Marshall said.

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