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Donato and Gee split on free rapid antigen tests


Phil Donato speaks to the media. Facebook.

By Peter Holmes


State member for Orange Phil Donato says the federal government needs to make rapid antigen tests (RATs) freely available to everyone.


However the federal member for Calare, Andrew Gee, has backed his government's position on restricting free access to RATs, directing people who aren't eligible for government-supplied tests instead to pharmacies.


"They should be free," Donato told The Orange News Examiner.


"This would help to also alleviate pressure from pathologist units conducting testing and reduce queuing times at testing locations, not to mention quicker results."



Gee said that about six million Australians will be able to receive free RATs.



Andrew Gee gets the jab. Facebook.

"Anyone in Orange, and across our region, who holds a Commonwealth seniors health card, a healthcare card, a low income card, a pension concession card, DVA Gold card or a DVA white card can access the tests for free," he told this organ.


"They’re also free to anyone with COVID-19 or with symptoms."


For the other 20 million Australians, Gee said millions of RATs were "set to hit our shores in coming days" and "there will be more stock available at our local pharmacies".


"This, alongside new export and anti-hoarding restrictions, means finding a test will become easier," he said, also pointing to fines up to $66,000 or five years in prison for price gouging.


Donato urged the people of Orange and surrounds to "remain calm and vigilant" and to "practice self-hygiene and social distancing".


Gee said more than 95 percent of Orange is vaccinated.


"Right now, with case numbers rising across the region, we’re reminded everyday about why we got vaccinated," he said. "While case numbers are shooting up, hospitalisations are remaining steady, meaning the vaccines are working."

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