Labor is increasingly concerned that insufficient testing for COVID-19 is being conducted in Australia.
Today Labor echoes calls made previously to the Government to address testing shortages, and to test as many Australians with COVID-19 symptoms as possible.
The Government should do everything in their power to ensure every suspected case is tested based on ‘symptoms or contact’ not ‘symptoms and contact’.
The Government has acknowledged that their recommendations on testing are constrained by the availability of tests. Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said only two days ago “if we had unlimited amounts of tests, we could do other things”.
Testing should not be determined by the number of tests available. Testing should be determined by the number of people who need it.
Labor understands there are global shortages, but we also understand that countries who have tested in abundance have managed to prevent mass outbreaks or bring them under control, like in South Korea. These countries continue to test anyone with symptoms or close contact with confirmed cases.
The Director General of the World Health Organisation said only on Monday:
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.”
Currently in Australia you will only be tested if your doctor decides you meet the criteria:
· You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
· You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
· You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause
· You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and you have a respiratory illness and a fever
Labor respects that the Government have this week imported more tests to increase capacity and that assert they will continue to address this as an issue.
But they must do more.
The spread of the virus and health of every Australian depends on it.