‘This is deplorable': Australians furious as rapid tests run out, stalling work, family plans
Readers from Brisbane to the south of Victoria have expressed frustration at being unable to get their hands on rapid antigen testing kits.Today The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald asked readers of the national news blog for their experiences seeking out rapid tests and at testing lines and responses flooded in from Brisbane to Sydney and right down to Phillip Island in Victoria's south.
Indian health officials are investigating a private laboratory after international passengers alleged faulty Covid-19 testing. © Getty Images India requires passengers from 'high-risk countries to be tested on arrival
At least 173 passengers from Rome, and 125 travellers from Milan tested positive on arrival in Amritsar city.
Thirty of them were tested again at the airport - but only three people tested positive for Covid the second time.
Airport officials told BBC Punjabi they have stopped using the services of the lab, SpiceHealth, for now.
"If it's a manufacturing fault, we have to follow certain guidelines. If it's a human or procedural fault, then we will certainly take action," Airport director VK Seth said.
Victorians fed up with lack of rapid antigen tests as they're turned away from testing queues
People are becoming frustrated at the COVID-19 testing regime as they are turned away from screening stations and unable to come by at-home testing kits. Testing stations are again closing their queues early this week as demand continues to grow amid the Omicron outbreak, of which 76 per cent of samples in Victoria since Christmas are the latest COVID-19 variant.Bendigo Health reported as much as a four-hour wait on Sunday and Monday to get tested at its McLaren Street drive-through and walk-in testing stations.
Dr. Charanjit Singh, civil surgeon of Amritsar, told the BBC that preliminary investigations suggest that the controls of the machines were not working properly, and that the issue was being investigated at the "highest levels".
Mr Singh added that SpiceHealth was hired by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on 15 December to test passengers arriving from high-risk countries as per government rules.
India is currently in the third wave of the pandemic, which experts believe is led by the Omicron variant. It added more than 167,000 news cases on Tuesday.
In a statement, SpiceHealth said that given the "alarmingly high positivity rate of passengers" on the two charter flights from Italy, "we have decided to conduct a detailed technical investigation and decontamination".
PM criticised for being behind in RAT race
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted calls to make rapid antigen tests free, saying it's not a silver bullet to deal with the challenges posed by Omicron.Following widespread shortages of the rapid tests and large queues at PCR testing clinics across the country, the prime minister said the tests wouldn't be rolled out freely.
"SpiceHealth has used technology specified by the airport and followed all protocols listed by the manufacturer and national accreditation agencies," the lab said.
At least 13 passengers who arrived on the flight from Milan and wtested positive escaped institutional quarantine.
Visuals from that day showed ambulances lined up outside the airport to take the infected passengers to hospital as crowds gathered and chaos ensued. Many of the passengers appeared furious, alleging that their positive test results were inaccurate as they had tested negative before boarding the flight.
Several states, including Punjab - where Amritsar is located - have introduced restrictions to curb the spread of the virus amid a surge in infections.
Punjab has shut schools and colleges, and imposed a night curfew.
India has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and around 484,000 deaths from the virus.
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Covid test firm urges end to tests for travellers .
Collinson, which also runs airport lounges and other travel services, thinks tests are bad for business.Simon Worrell, global medical director of Collinson - which also runs airport lounges - said: "As soon as we can drop it, we will be delighted.