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Call for firms to get free rapid testing

A range of peak bodies and unions representing businesses and high-risk industries are calling for the government to subsidise and supply rapid coronavirus testing kits.

The costs of supervised tests range $18 to $49 and unsupervised testing kits cost around $20 per test, according to Pathology Technology Australia.

Tests would need to be taken about every three days to be effective.

There are concerns case numbers could spike again with more asymptomatic cases going undetected as the country nears a first vaccine dose rate of 90 per cent and has a double dose rate of 75 per cent for those over the age of 16.

The contingent of peak bodies, mainly made up of transport industry representatives, says any further hard lockdowns or restrictions would have a devastating impact on the economy.

But businesses will not take up continued rapid testing if the costs become overwhelming, Australia’s small business council and peak union body argue.

Council of Small Business Organisations Australia chief executive Alexi Boyd said funding for tests would give businesses confidence to remain open and continue operating safely.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus called on the federal government to follow the lead of the UK, Singapore and a number of countries in Europe in supplying the tests as part of their COVID-19 response.

“We cannot afford to make the same mistake with rapid testing as we have with vaccines,” she said.

Meanwhile, the first aged care residents have received their COVID-19 boosters after a third vaccine dose was approved by the country’s peak advisory group.

While the top-up Pfizer dose will be rolled out to the general public from November 8, aged care residents and those with disabilities are now able to receive the boosters.

Indigenous Australians, those with underlying health conditions and workers in high-risk COVID settings will also be prioritised for boosters.

The boosters will be able to be received six months after a person’s second dose.

While Pfizer has been approved as the booster, those who have been immunised with other vaccine brands will be able to get the top-up.

The government won’t be setting a national target for the booster jabs.

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