Health minister Greg Hunt has announced a partnership between the federal government, Minderoo Foundation and private pathology providers that has secured an additional 10 million COVID-19 test kits and pathology equipment to be installed across the country.
The latest announcement comes with conformation over 500,000 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Australia to date.
The addition of 10 million tests across the country between now and the end of the year equates to an almost 20 fold increase in testing, said Minister Hunt, who added this increased capability is critical so Australia can expand the testing criteria for COVID-19.
He also said the diversification of COVID-19 testing supplies ensures adequate capability in the context of uncertain supply lines and shortages globally.
Expanding the testing criteria is one of the criteria the National Cabinet will consider before the further easing of social distancing and economic restrictions.
“I particularly want to thank Andrew and Nicola Forrest and the Minderoo Foundation for their instrumental work in helping to secure this critical additional testing capacity for Australia,” said Minister Hunt.
“Our approach to testing in Australia, already one of the highest rates per capita in the world, has been a vital part of our success in flattening the infection curve.
“As we move to the next stage of our recovery, further expanding testing capacity and case ascertainment is one of the three critical steps we can take to protect Australians, avoid further spikes in community transmission and assist in easing restrictions.
“The work of the Minderoo Foundation in helping to secure these high quality PCR tests and equipment helps protect the Australian public, diversifies supply lines and provides us with a fundamental testing capacity for COVID-19. All of this affirms and strengthens our essential pathway out of the current restrictions and our investability as a Nation,” Minister Hunt said.
Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, said the expansion of COVID-19 testing is an important part of the enhanced public health response.
“Testing is necessary to detect and control outbreaks, if physical distancing, measures are to be relaxed,” said Professor Murphy.
“The AHPPC is advising the National Cabinet on an expanded testing program that will have an initial strong focus on testing anyone who has acute respiratory symptoms (coughs, colds, sore throat etc), widespread testing of contacts of COVID-19 cases and selected cohort studies, such as frontline health and aged care workers."