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Testing time: Marshall green-lights Rapid Antigen Tests as cases soar

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The Marshall Government has moved to allow the immediate sale of Rapid Antigen COVID tests in South Australia – hours after declaring they were still days away from public use – as the state’s case numbers today soared to 484.

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Earlier today, Premier Steven Marshall indicated there were “millions” of test kits in the state but they would not be released for public use until after Christmas.

However, after the state’s case numbers today more than doubled to 484, with 36 confirmed Omicron cases and seven people hospitalised – with one in intensive care – the Government quickly fast-tracked the sale of the self-testing kits, which will be permitted for sale from today.

Rapid antigen tests allow asymptomatic people in the community to screen themselves for COVID-19.

“We planned for the use of Rapid Antigen Testing to be implemented when we reached a level of COVID within the community and we have now hit that mark,” Marshall said in a statement issued late today.

People exhibiting symptoms or who are declared close contracts of positive cases are still advised to seek a PCR test from an SA Health-listed testing site, and isolate until they receive a negative result.

However, Marshall said local stores will “take time to transport the stock to their shelves”, urging patience over the coming days if tests are not immediately available.

“Rapid Antigen Testing is a useful tool for surveillance testing and asymptomatic South Australians who are looking for a greater of sense of confidence before socially interacting with others,” he said.

“Transition to the next phase of our COVID-Ready plan was always going to be challenging and I thank every South Australian for their efforts so far.”

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said that “with higher rates of COVID-19 now in our community the expanded use of Rapid Antigen Testing provides an excellent additional layer of protection and reassurance for individuals”.

“Importantly, [it] is not a diagnostic test for COVID-19 and anyone with symptoms, or a close contact of a confirmed case, should get a PCR test at one of our testing clinics,” she said in a statement.

She said the tests were most appropriate for people wanting reassurance before entering high-risk settings such as healthcare and aged care sites, before visiting crowded places, attending work or simply “to provide reassurance to asymptomatic people who are feeling anxious or worried in the current COVID climate”.

“It will also ensure we prioritise the PCR tests for everyone who had COVID-19 symptoms,” she said.

It comes as SA Health tonight listed several new close contact exposure sites, including numerous city nightspots.

These include the Black Bull Hotel, The Dog and Duck, Fat Controller nightclub, Holey Moley, Osteria Oggi, West Oak Hotel and Zhivago.

SA Health says unvaccinated contacts must immediately quarantine for 14 days and get tested immediately and again on days six and 13, while vaccinated contacts must quarantine for seven days and get tested immediately and again on days six and 13.

They have also added new exposure times for Adelaide bar Cry Baby, two days after media reported a woman posting a warning that she and 12 others had tested positive to COVID after attending venue last Wednesday December 15.

“13 known cases (including myself) that have tested positive, all of which were at cry baby on the night of wednesday 15th,” she posted.

“I gave my contact tracing interview yesterday, none of those places have been updated onto the exposure listings.

“Many west end hospitality venues have been exposure sites over the last week, almost none of them listed either.

“If you or anyone you know has been out and about celebrating, please monitor for symptoms and get tested if anything doesn’t feel right.”

Early learning centres in Angle Vale, Athol Park and Croydon Park are also listed.

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