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Scott Morrison has ruled out making rapid antigen tests (RAT) for coronavirus free across Australia.
Tens of thousands of Aussies are finding out they're positive for Covid-19 every day now and many more are doing rapid tests to see if they have the virus.
However, at around $10 a pop, these fast antigen tests don't come cheap.
There have been calls for the Australian government to subsidise these tiny devices at least until the Omicron wave stops giving us five-figure daily case increases.
But the Prime Minister says you have to draw a line in the sand about what the government pays for.
Speaking to Sunrise yesterday (January 3), Mr Morrison said: "We've invested hundreds of billions of dollars getting Australia through this crisis.
"But we're now in a stage of the pandemic where you can't just make everything free because, when someone tells you they want to make something free, someone's always going to pay for it and it's going to be you."
People are still waiting for hours to get a PCR test to officially confirm they have Covid-19 and many sites are being pushed to the brink with the demand.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported how Australian Clinical Labs has shut its 28 drive-in testing sites 'until further notice' because they had to get through the backlog of swabs already completed.
The Australian government will make the rapid tests free for vulnerable communities and that plan will be worked out this week.
Thankfully, the New South Wales and Victorian governments will lighten the load for residents needing rapid tests.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said his state has purchased a whopping 34 million rapid antigen tests and they'll be dished out from this week.
"Victorians have been here before, I'm confident we can do it again," he said. "Rapid antigen tests should be free, and we will be making them free.
"Rapid antigen tests should be widely available, and we will be making them widely available.
"That will be part of a process that has fallen to the states. We would much prefer a national approach ... failing that, as per usual the states have had to step up."
Credit: Robert Wallace / Wallace Media Network / Alamy Stock Photo
NSW has not released a timeline for its own RAT distribution, but also has plans to make them available for free.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the free tests and reintroduction of masks and distancing in venues would help take the pressure off the health system and keep the community safe until more people could get booster shots.
"We said we would tailor our settings as the situation evolved and these steps will help take the pressure of our health system, so the people who need care can access it," the NSW leader said.
"Our frontline health workers have done an enormous job keeping us safe over the past two years and we can't thank them enough.
"Vaccination remains the key to keeping people safe and out of hospital. It is vital people continue to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated and receive their boosters."
Featured Image Credit: Rod Lamkey/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom/Alamy Live News
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