Labor will reconsider its policy to provide free rapid COVID-19 tests for all Australians.
The party had pushed for free RATs in January as the Omicron outbreak hit Australia’s east coast.
“Times have changed and what we would do is consider the health advice at the time,” federal leader Anthony Albanese said on Saturday.
Labor’s free RATs commitment was based on lacking test kit availability and subsequent cost pressures on the back of what the party claimed was a slow vaccine rollout.
But Mr Albanese suggested the pressures had eased.
In other COVID-related news, health authorities are turning their attention to broader vaccination targets after the lifting of restrictions.
In NSW, pharmacies will join a reinvigorated plan for adolescent immunisations for the nearly 80,000 students who missed out on shots when schools were closed during the pandemic.
Authorities will offer human papillomavirus virus and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shots for people 12 and up, as well as meningococcal jabs to those aged 14 and over.
The broader vaccine push in NSW is on top a call by health experts for Australians to get their flu jabs as hospitals prepare for a winter influx of flu and COVID-19 patients.
Authorities have been predicting a particularly bad flu season after two years of the virus being suppressed by restrictions on international travel and social distancing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
No deaths were recorded from the flu last year but vaccination coverage also dropped, leaving people vulnerable to new influenza strains.
In 2019 – the last winter before the pandemic – more than 313,000 flu cases were reported in Australia and 902 people died.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said nearly 80,000 NSW students missed out on routine vaccinations in 2020 and 2021 due to school closures.
Health workers are trying to play catch-up through school-based programs.
“To make it easier for these students to get up to date with their immunisations, we are now making routine NSW government-funded adolescent vaccinations accessible through local pharmacies across NSW,” Dr Chant said.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:
NSW: 11,671 new cases, 19 deaths, 1481 in hospital with 54 in ICU
Victoria: 9365 new cases, nine deaths, 4942 in hospital with 35 in ICU
Queensland: 6662 new cases, five deaths, 454 in hospital with 12 in ICU
Tasmania: 903 new cases, two deaths, 48 in hospital with one in ICU
ACT: 1053 new cases, one death, 66 in hospital with five in ICU
NT: 298 new cases, no deaths, 36 in hospital with none in ICU
WA: 9243 new cases, six deaths, 275 in hospital with 11 in ICU.