Queues of up to 9 hours to get PCR test in Australia

Sydney, Australia, Jan 5 (EFE).- People in Australia’s main cities were queuing for up to nine hours to get Covid-19 PCR tests due to high demand over a rebound in infections in the country, which on Wednesday reported almost 65,000 infections and 19 deaths, as well as the shortage of home antigen tests.

In Sydney and Melbourne, the most affected by the irruption of the omicron variant, and the rest of the country, there were daily long queues of people or vehicles, which could extend for more than a couple of kilometers, to access a free PCR test.

The wait can last up to nine hours while the results take up to four days, causing enormous outrage, while at least 80 eventual test centers have had to close to dedicate themselves to analyzing the samples.

“This massive demand … is due to the large volume of the variant (omicron). Under the delta, it was very, very different. This affects all countries in the world, not just Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday, having been criticized for the lack of foresight to deal with these strains.

To ease the pressure on the system, the Australian government has recommended that residents with Covid-19 symptoms take home antigen tests, but these are scarce, are more expensive and have begun to be sold on the black market, so several sectors of politicians, health and social have asked that they be distributed free.

Morrison said Wednesday that he will present a proposal to regional leaders to reduce costs, adding that these tests to detect the virus are free for those who have tested positive for antigens or who are close contacts at home, among a few others reasons.

Australian Medical Association President Omar Khorshid said in a statement that an increase in the numbers of accumulated cases – which have gone from about 212,000 infections on Dec. 1 to almost 613,000 Wednesday – is “very likely.”

“They represent only a fraction of actual infection rates,” he said.

Australia, which applied one of the toughest policies in the world against the pandemic, said it does not plan to establish new restrictions and will instead choose to live with the virus in the country, which, according to experts, would reach its peak of infections this month. EFE


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