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The government has introduced new measures to stop jacking up the price of rapid antigen tests (RATs) as stores struggle to keep stock on the shelves.
An emergency cabinet meeting was held yesterday (January 5), which ruled that retailers who are caught selling RATs for more than a 20 per cent mark up on wholesale prices will face a fine of $66,000 and up to five years in jail.
Since the announcement a number of retailers have pulled the tests from their websites, including Harvey Norman.
At a wholesale cost of $3 each the Australian government could buy 3 billion RATs for the same amount it subsidised the coal industry last year alone which was $10 billion.
That's around 130 tests for every Australian.
- Daniel Bleakley (@DanielBleakley) January 4, 2022
Consumers will also only be able to buy one box of two or five at a time to stop people hoarding the kits or reselling them at a markup.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government is working to respond to issues that arise as they present themselves.
"This virus will continue to challenge us and it is important that we all remain calm," Morrison said.
"We have no choice but to ride the wave."We have to keep working through the problems and dealing with the challenges presented."
Morrison has already been criticised for walking back on promises of free tests and admitting he has never had to purchase a test himself.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there was still plenty of spare capacity in hospitals, despite Aussie states recording tens of thousands of new cases each day.
"We're seeing very large numbers of cases but very, very few people with severe illness and this is the nature of Omicron," he said.
Low-income earners will be able to access 10 RATs every three months from pharmacies under the new rules, with no more than five available in one month.
BREAKING: Understood National cabinet has agreed to free RAT tests as per push from Qld
- Free rat tests.
- Collect from pharmacies. 10 tests over three months.
- same ID checks as SUDAFED @newscomauHQ PM to announce shortly
- Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) January 5, 2022
It was also announced that you no longer need to obtain a PCR test if you return a positive rapid test.
That announcement comes as multiple testing clinics have closed in a bid to get through a backlog of testing and wait times at open clinics have skyrocket.
More than 64,000 COVID cases were reported nationally on Wednesday (January 5), making it the highest daily number since the pandemic began.
NSW registered a high of 35,054 cases and eight deaths and Victoria 17,636 cases and 11 deaths.