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Home quarantine and rapid testing around the corner for international travel

September 16, 2021 Headline News No Comments

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the country’s medical regulator to urgently consider the widespread use of rapid antigen testing in workplaces and for home use as the federal government presses ahead with plans to allow Australians to travel overseas by the end of the year.

A Sydney Morning Herald report by Rachel Clun and Anthony Galloway says that Rapid antigen testing is used in many contexts overseas including in the US and Britain as a way of monitoring COVID-19 cases but has not yet been broadly deployed as a weapon against the virus in Australia, but that according to the health minster. rapid antigen tests will become part of testing in workplaces and homes in the near future,

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan also advised people to get ready for mobile phone apps that would trace their location, a necessary device, she said, if the country embraced home quarantine and Mr Hunt said introducing home-based testing and quarantine, as well as the digital vaccination certificate and a new digital border pass, would bring Australians closer to overseas travel.

“We want to see Australians to be able to travel overseas at the earliest possible time,” he said this week, adding, “I’m hopeful that these tests will be available at the earliest possible time for workplaces, and then subsequently, once we have the support of the AHPPC [Australian Health Protection Principal Committee], within the home.”

The report says that of the eligible population aged 16 and over, 68.5 percent have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 43.2 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

New modelling from the Doherty Institute will be unveiled at national cabinet on Friday which will reinforce the four-phase national plan to start opening up when 70 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated. It is expected to provide more evidence that it is safe to move into phases B and C of the plan even with the higher caseload and the Delta strain in Victoria and NSW.

The institute will also be asked to model the effect of increasing the number of international passengers coming into the country under phases C and D of the plan, according to senior government sources.

The Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force is also in the early stages of devising a two-zone system at the country’s airports whereby countries with relatively low COVID-19 cases would be marked “green” and nations with a higher number of cases would be “red”.

With the key to raising international arrival caps being the introduction of home quarantine, Ms McMillan said relying on police to visit people in-home quarantine required a lot of resources and could be replaced by mobile phone apps using geolocation technology to ensure people remained in isolation.

She added, “We’ll see the increased use of technology, as we’ve seen with things like the COVID app and the check-ins.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week wrote to all state and territory leaders asking them to set timetables for their introduction of home quarantine and wants to hear from them at national cabinet this week on their plans.

South Australia has already begun a home-based quarantine trial whereby people have to download the Home Quarantine SA app to access their testing schedule, complete daily symptom checks and confirm their location with regular check-ins.

Mr Hunt said the states and territories already know how to do home quarantine well.

“The South Australian home quarantine app is a real breakthrough, and does provide a pathway forwards,” Mr Hunt said.

The states and territories will be aided by a new digital border pass which will apply to all travellers entering the country and will be introduced within months

A report by John Alwyn-Jones, Special Correspondent Travel and Tourism and Cruise Editor, Global Travel Media and Global Cruise News


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