Testing requirements slashed as infections explode
National Cabinet has slashed COVID-19 testing requirements in an attempt to ease pressure on a heavily strained testing regime.
The news comes as Benalla Rural City reported 24 new positive cases in the 24 hours to noon on Tuesday, January 11.
There are now 107 active COVID-19 cases in the Rose City and 151 people have recovered.
Moving forward, people who test positive on a rapid antigen test will no longer be required to get a PCR test to confirm their result.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said truck drivers were no longer required to get tested regularly, while international arrivals now only need a single negative RAT, taken on arrival.
The Federal Government has also agreed to provide up to 10 free RATs for concession card holders during the next three months. The tests are expected to be available in the next fortnight.
The tests will be available at pharmacies for those with a Commonwealth seniors health card, a healthcare card, a low-income card, a pension concession card and/or a DVA gold or white card.
Free tests have previously been restricted to close contacts, people with symptoms and health or aged care workers.
The Federal Government has maintained RATs will not be free for everyone wanting to access them.
Mr Morrison also announced anyone selling RATs at more than a 20 per cent markup would be breaching a biosecurity measure declared by the Health Minister.
The penalty for breaching the measure carries a penalty of up to $66,000 and five years in jail.
It comes as reports of price gouging emerge as demand for the tests soars and new infections explode.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese criticised the proposal on January 5, stating the tests should be freely available to everyone and not just concession card holders.
"It is very clear the simplest and most cost-efficient way is to make tests free and available," Mr Albanese said.
"It's clear that the costs of tests are dwarfed by the costs of inaction."
On Tuesday, January 11, Victoria recorded 19,491 new cases of COVID-19 via PCR test and 18,503 probable cases via RAT.
Sadly, 13 more lives have been lost bringing the state total to 1593.
The most recent figures, released on Monday, January 10, show that 861 people in Victoria are now in hospital, 69 of which are in intensive care and 28 are on a ventilator.
There are now approximately 171,369 active cases in the state, but health authorities believe the number is under-reported due to difficulty getting tested at overwhelmed testing sites.
The case surge has swamped PCR testing capability with Victorian health authorities warning the testing system may not be functioning smoothly for at least another week.