After increasing calls for COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to be made free, health authorities are preparing to give them away to millions of Australians in the coming weeks.
As states have begun using RATs to confirm whether a person has been infected, reports have emerged of price gouging and widespread unavailability as cases skyrocket.
The resulting pressure on governments to supply them for free has led to some fruition, with certain Aussies able to secure the tests for free.
Free tests have been made available at state testing clinics for people who are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, or if they have symptoms of the virus.
Additionally, the National Cabinet last week agreed to distribute them to people holding any of the five concession cards.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that National Cabinet rejected calls to make them completely free, instead providing them at no cost to around six million Australians – about 23 percent of the total population.
Unless you’re a close contact or are experiencing symptoms, you will be eligible for free tests if you hold one of the following cards:
- Pension Concession Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
- Health Care Card
- Low Income Health Card
Eligible Australians will receive a total of ten tests provided over no more than three months.
However, a monthly cap of five free tests per person will also apply.
When and where can I get them?
The RATs will be available from pharmacies, with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia announcing it is working with National Cabinet to facilitate the rollout.
“These COVID tests will be available through the pharmacy network,” the organisation said in a statement.
“It recognises that community pharmacies are highly skilled and trained health professionals, readily accessible to Australians.”
However, those who are close contacts or have symptoms shouldn’t present at a pharmacy for their test.
Instead, they are urged to go to a state-run testing clinic.
As for when they will be available, Mr Morrison announced on January 5 that the initiative would be “in place over the next fortnight”.
“It may be able to be done more quickly than that, and we are working with the Pharmacy Guild to put that in place as soon as we can,” he said.
More information is expected to emerge after National Cabinet meets this week.
Image: Getty Images
This article first appeared on OverSixty.