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Australia: Greg Hunt critical of Qld's controversial PCR test requirement in border policy

Expensive COVID-19 test requirement may be scrapped as Queensland reviews border rules

  Expensive COVID-19 test requirement may be scrapped as Queensland reviews border rules The Queensland government reviews border requirements which currently see families faced with paying hundreds of dollars for COVID tests when entering the state. Queensland is just weeks away from reopening to people from interstate hotspots, with the state's borders set to open once 80 per cent of Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.Based on the latest figures, that could be between December 6 and December 12.Under the state government's roadmap, all new arrivals must be double-vaccinated and have had a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before entering Queensland.

Queensland's Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has hit back at a letter sent to her by the federal government that criticised the state's COVID border policy on PCR tests.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt wrote to Ms D'Ath on Monday to raise concerns about Queensland's proposed COVID-19 testing for those entering the state.

He said recent media reporting had suggested vaccinated domestic travellers arriving from a hotspot would be required to have a negative COVID PCR test undertaken within the 72 hours before to entering Queensland.

But he said under the national plan, the Commonwealth's hotspot declaration automatically ceases within a particular state or territory two weeks after the 80 per cent fully vaccinated rate has been reached in that jurisdiction.

Testy moment Annastacia Palaszczuk hits out on $145 Covid tests

  Testy moment Annastacia Palaszczuk hits out on $145 Covid tests Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to change the need for a $145 test for interstate people to enter the state, as she came under fire for the policy at a press conference. The Queensland government had been criticised for insisting on the need for a Covid test from a private pathology clinic within 72 hours of arriving in the state when it fully re-opens on December 17. A family of five will face a bill of $725, for example, in order to meet the requirement upon entering the state for holidays.

"I am concerned about this in two regards. Firstly, it appears Queensland has failed to give sufficient regard to the value of rapid antigen testing (RAT) in this context, and secondly, that Queensland is proposing not to assist Queenslanders with the provision of these tests," he wrote.

"RAT offers significant advantages in cost, speed and convenience, and I encourage you to further consider what role it could play in Queensland's border arrangements."

The PCR test will cost travellers about $145, while rapid antigen testing is said to be up to $30.


Video: COVID case detected on Queensland border (Sky News Australia)

Mr Hunt said there should be no costs imposed on those requiring a test, including necessary testing associated with border crossings.

Now Palaszczuk won't let Queenslanders go to SYDNEY

  Now Palaszczuk won't let Queenslanders go to SYDNEY Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said going to Sydney for a day or two would be 'out of the question' until the state reached 90 per cent of its population fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The claim was in response to a question about whether people who travel from Queensland to Sydney for a day or two 'for work' will still require a PCR test in order to return home.'We're looking at that, you do need to have a PCR test,' she responded. 'At the moment, going to Sydney for a day or two would be out of the question until we get to that 90 per cent double dose.

But Ms D'Ath on Tuesday defended Queensland's policy, telling ABC Radio that the PCR tests were more accurate.

She said the federal government should look at their Medicare rebate to help travellers.

"He [Mr Hunt] says he doesn't understand why we would be relying on a test that has seen us keep people safe and alive for the past two years - the most accurate test we can have," she said.

"It was only a week ago the Prime Minister was criticising our mandatory vaccination policy that is seeing us drive up the vaccination rates, so they beat their chest and brag about the vaccination rates on almost a daily basis and then criticise how we're getting there.

"I think that's absolutely appalling."

Ms D'Ath pointed out there were other states that require PCR tests, and it was the same system that the Morrison government had been using during the pandemic for international travellers.

"What is Scott Morrison's obsession with Queensland?" she said.

When asked whether the Queensland government would meet some of the costs of the PCR testing for travellers, she said, "not at this stage", because it was the Commonwealth's responsibility to look after Medicare and private pathology.

She said the federal government should subsidise asymptomatic testing as this would support COVID-ravaged industries such as the tourism and business sectors.

What is a PCR test? Will I need a COVID test to travel interstate over the Christmas holidays? .
Booking flights, refuelling the car and packing bags aren't the only things you'll need before heading interstate this Christmas. Find out if you'll need a COVID-19 test and when.Booking flights, refuelling the car and packing bags aren't the only things you'll need before heading interstate this Christmas – you might also need a COVID test.

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