Police remain sidelined due to lack of rapid antigen tests
Australia’s difficulty in sourcing enough rapid antigen tests (RATs) has struck the Victorian Police force, with some officers stuck in isolation due to the shortage.
Despite a change to the rules for emergency services, Victoria Police members who are household close contacts will need to continue to isolate rather than return to duty.
“While Victoria Police has received an initial supply of rapid antigen tests and more are expected shortly, we have not yet been able to source a consistent and reliable supply to cover the number that would be required to test all employees currently isolating,” a police spokesperson said.
For operational reasons, the police refused to comment on how many officers could not be tested but emphasised public services would not be affected.
As of Wednesday, Victoria is allowing those in the emergency services who are close contacts to return to work sooner - as well as those in education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport, freight and food production.
However, workers are required to undertake a daily RAT for five days and return a negative result prior to attending work each day.
The exemption only applies to those deemed close contacts, meaning they spent more than four hours with a case inside a house, accommodation or care facility.
The Victoria Police spokesperson said it was hoped the tests shortage would be resolved in the next few weeks.
Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt confirmed to 3AW the number of police currently isolating as close contacts was roughly 800 to 1000, many of whom would be able to return to work if not for the shortage of tests.
“It does have an impact on the strain and pressures put on our members,” Mr Gatt said.
He added that police had been operating with restricted resources since the 2019 bushfires, requiring “emergency plans just to keep the boat floating”.
“Full credit to the men and women of Victorian Police because without that flexibility and without that commitment, we wouldn’t be able to maintain the services that we have been able to do to this point,” he said.
Originally published as Police remain sidelined due to lack of rapid antigen tests
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