The number of COVID cases in Australia have been increasing at an alarming rate over the past couple of weeks. But, despite the surge, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused public calls to make antigen tests free.
“We’re now in a stage of the pandemic where you can’t just make everything free,” Morrison said during an appearance on Sunrise this morning.
“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.”
However, while Morrison has said that the nation won’t be covering the costs of the tests, he has agreed for the federal government to fund half the costs of rapid tests that have been purchased by Australian states. These tests can be handed out free to those who are close contacts of infected people.
If anyone else – who doesn’t qualify for a free test under the close contact rule – wants to get tested, they will have to pay for it out of their own pocket. Unfortunately, many chemists are sold out of rapid tests, so even those who want to pay for them, can’t get their hands on one.
Despite repeated requests from the Australian public for easier access to free tests, Morrison is standing firm on his decision.
“We’ve invested hundreds of billions of dollars getting Australia through the crisis,” he said, during the same interview.
As well as addressing the price of rapid tests, Morrison has been doing the media rounds today, announcing that the “days of lockdown are gone” in an interview with Channel Nine’s Today show.
“This is a different type of variant which requires an evolution of our response. The days of lockdown are gone. We’re going forward, we’re not going back – that’s not how we manage this virus. There will be high case numbers, but the severity is a lot less so you focus on your healthcare system,” he said during the interview.
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