It’s time to use our strained testing resources in more targeted way

“With Australia’s testing resources under immense strain and with the anxiety, inconvenience and costs of queuing and waiting for reports rising steeply, it’s time to use our testing capabilities in a much more effective way. Three barriers to addressing this escalating problem are multiple PCR testing for internal travel; overly-cautious definitions of close contacts; and RAT hesitancy on the part of some of the states,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“National Cabinet is inching towards some sensible outcomes but while multiple PCR testing stays in place for internal travel and while many jurisdictions have such broad definitions of close contacts, Australians and our economy will remain hobbled by COVID overreactions.

“Testing queues have been unquestionably lengthened by multiple PCR test requirements for internal travellers and overly-cautious definitions of close contacts. Both risk discouraging people who should be tested from being tested at all; they impose extra anxiety and costs due to delays in reporting test results; and they delay preventative action being taken following positive results.

“Further, hesitancy by some states over the use of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT), which provides an ATAGI-approved alternative screen when PCR testing is under such strain, is difficult to comprehend.

“Steps towards a common and not-overly cautious definition of close contacts are welcome but too slow.

“While more data needs to be collected and the jury is still out on the impacts of Omicron, there is a clear risk that current reactions to the variant are not only out of proportion to the threat, they are blocking our vital testing resources at the time when we most need them to be working as effectively as possible. What is required is a calm determination to react sensibly and proportionally to risks rather than overreacting and imposing unnecessary costs out of fear,” Mr Willox said.

/Public Release. View in full here.