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COVID Australia: In the RAT race


“It’s about people who are necessary for the economy or going to school and of course the health sector,” he said.

The Kew man, who was diagnosed with lymphoma, has been living in a self-imposed lockdown since beginning treatment in November.

Mr. Harris and his wife will be going to the stores to get essentials, but that’s it. With his immune system “wiped out” by monthly chemotherapy sessions, they’re too scared to go on social outings or bring friends and family to their home without the safety of rapid tests.

Even his mandatory PCR tests, required before he goes to the hospital for monthly chemotherapy, are not returned in time for his sessions.

These rapid tests are on their way to Rod Harris, a Melbourne man who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, from a friend in Thailand.Credit:Dustin Harris (included)

Mr Harris’ friend Dustin Barter, a former Melburnian living in Thailand as an aid worker, is sending packages of rapid tests to friends and family in Melbourne who they cannot get their hands on locally.

In Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where he lives, government-regulated rapid tests cost between US$2 and US$4 each and can be easily ordered and delivered online, or purchased from pharmacies and convenience stores.

“You can order packages online and get them delivered within two to three days. A pack of 20 costs about $40,” said Mr. Barter.

He said he was amazed at the RAT shortage in Australia. “It’s not like the rapid tests are new technology or anything. They have been using them in the UK for a long time and they are very effective. It is confusing.”

In Australia, many have found crowdsourcing website findarat.com.au, developed by 24-year-old Melbourne software engineer Matthew Hayward, a double-edged sword, with crowds flocking to retailers once they’re listed as stock on the site.

Some have found better luck in numerous localized Facebook groups such as B. Rapid Antigen Tests (Covid-19) Brisbane, started by Brisbane Kindergarten teacher Angela Owens.

Ms Owens started the group for locals two weeks ago, furious at the price drops she’s seen across town. Her group now has over 10,000 members posting dozens of real-time tips on stocking shops in Brisbane.

“People post [in the group] So since they’re queuing at the store, it’s real-time — not later in the night when they get home to collect data,” she said.

“[Locals] I can go, ‘Oh great, I can duck down and I’ll be there in half an hour,'” she said.

Image: Matt Golding

Image: Matt GoldingCredit:.

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission last week launched inquiries into more than 1,000 reports of public price gouging, and a spokesman confirmed this week that apps like Airtasker are part of its remit.

“ACCC also reviews reports of rapid test pricing on online marketplaces, and most have policies to prevent the sale of such items,” a spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Airtasker said the platform has no concerns about trading on the platform.

“Airtasker’s priority is to create a community that adheres to regulations while connecting people who need to get things done with those who have the ability or ability to get the job done,” she said.


“In that case, it’s offering RAT testing to help Australians do the right thing and stay isolated.”

The federal government’s anti-price gouging measures, which will be in effect by February 17, prohibit people who have bought test kits from a retailer from reselling them for more than 120 percent of their purchase price and from exporting them without a valid exemption permit.

The federal government said on Friday that 200 million test kits were on their way to Australia when state and federal orders were combined, although that spans shipments over several months.

The government has said it will distribute 10 million RATs to states and territories this week and next, while an additional 80 million units have been ordered.

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