State of origin 2022 claimed by Qld; NSW COVID cases increasing, Victoria COVID cases increasing, WA COVID cases increasing, NZ COVID restrictions need to be implemented; Anthony Albanese in the Solomon Islands
Health Minister Mark Butler has said government-funded pandemic holidays and free rapid antigen tests will soon end, but there will be no change to the free COVID tests currently available through centers run by the State.
Speaking to reporters in Adelaide today, Butler said that for those visiting a relative in a nursing home for the elderly, free rapid tests will be available funded by the federal government and PCR tests funded by the State will continue.
“There is no change in the [testing] arrangements that are in place,” Butler said.
“If you think you have COVID, if you have symptoms, if you are exposed as a close contact anywhere in Australia, you can access a free COVID test through state governments.
“What there is a change is a time-limited program that the national cabinet put in place, not the Commonwealth, the national cabinet put in place about six months ago that would allow pensioners and others concession card holders to build up a stock for their personal use.”
It was “always intended to run the six months”, and it is the “budgeted position”, he said, adding that he “deeply regrets” ending the COVID payment for people who cannot not access sick leave.
“Unfortunately, wherever an emergency payment measure is withdrawn or terminated, there will be an impact on the community,” he said. “Any time, whether it’s now, three months ago or three months from now. We regret that, of course.
Responding to the NSW Labor leader calling for an urgent payment overhaul, he said he had “no communication from him”.
Earlier Thursday, Chris Minns said the federal government should extend the $750 pandemic isolation payment, insisting that is the price Australia must pay if it is to continue living with COVID-19 .