Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to outline a proposal for rapid antigen tests to be subsidised at the first national cabinet of 2022, to be held later today. The meeting comes as COVID-19 cases across the country surge, with NSW reporting 35,054 new cases and 1491 people hospitalised in the last 24 hours.
The cabinet is expected to discuss welfare recipients and pensioners receiving cash payments for up to five rapid tests, with potential for ten tests each if states and territories agree. People would need to meet eligibility requirements to qualify for the subsidy.
The federal government is also expected to announce it will provide millions of “click and collect” free take-home tests to be handed out through state and territory-run testing centres as pressures on pathology labs continue to mount.
The consumer watchdog has received more than 100 complaints from consumers about excessive prices being asked for rapid tests, with reports of some convenience stores offering tests for sale through Uber Eats at inflated prices.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said his government is willing to come to a financial agreement with the Commonwealth to make sure rapid tests will be made available to people who are required to take them, saying that “there is no dollar figure that we will not put on the table”.
National cabinet will also consider whether to change the criteria for who is included in hospitalisation figures. The discussion comes after it was revealed earlier in the week that some people were being admitted to hospital for non-virus related health issues before later testing positive.