The Australian Government is investing $3.3 million to establish a rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) Remote Point of Care Testing Program for remote and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Under the program, people will benefit from testing times being cut to around 45 minutes. This will be a game-changing improvement for areas such as the Kimberley where receiving a test result can currently take up to 10 days.
Once fully rolled out, there will be 83 testing sites in place across Indigenous communities most at risk, and most in need.
The sites are being carefully selected, in partnership with key stakeholders including services and state and territory authorities, to ensure there is coverage across remote Australia.
Sites will be confirmed rapidly as part of the rollout over coming weeks, with the aim to finalise rollout by mid May.
The test, called the Xpert SARS-CoV-2 test, uses rapid technology to detect COVID-19 infections at the point-of-care by using a nasal swab polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in the early phases of the illness.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said that the program would allow local health services to respond quickly and decisively if COVID-19 was identified in their communities.
“It’s vital we do all we can to protect our rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This world first testing response means we can continue to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to fighting this virus,” Minister Hunt said,
“If an outbreak is detected, local health services can move quickly to protect the community and activate established evacuation procedures.