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Home quarantine, rapid testing will bring Australians closer to international travel

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.

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.

Rapid antigen tests will become part of testing in workplaces and homes in the near future, the health minister says.

Rapid antigen tests will become part of testing in workplaces and homes in the near future, the health minister says.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan 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.

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 on Tuesday afternoon.

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“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,” he said.

Of the eligible population aged 16 and over, 68.5 per cent have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 43.2 per cent 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 phase B and C of the plan even with the higher case load and the Delta strain in Victoria and NSW.

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