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Joyce warns against rapid test hoarding as shortages hit

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Panic buying and hoarding is leading to shortages of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests as Australians struggle to find the kits, the federal government says.

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Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters in Queensland this morning that while 200 million tests were on their way, Australians should only buy what they needed.

“Unfortunately, people are taking vastly more home than they need,” he said.

“Don’t take more than what you require because that means someone else misses out.”

“If you feel a bit crook … stay home and be careful as you would do if you had the flu or so many other viruses or diseases you might catch.”

It comes as pharmacists have expressed confusion over how the tests will be rolled out to concession cardholders, including welfare and pension recipients, with the federal government reportedly opting for a reimbursement model for pharmacies.

The government expects 200 million rapid tests will be available in the coming weeks.

More than six million concession cardholders will be able to access 10 free tests over a three-month period.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was confident the vaccine rollout covering young children was being managed well and doses were widely accessible.

Three million vaccines are being distributed before the start of the school year as 2.3 million children aged five to 11 become eligible from today.

So far more than 73 per cent of Australians aged 12 to 15 have been fully vaccinated, taking the total proportion of the eligible population to 91 per cent double-dosed.

“There are 6000 places where people can go (for a child vaccination),” the prime minister told reporters in Canberra this morning.

“There are 835,000 vaccines in those places right now as of last Friday and more would have been added to that since then – if you can’t get it from where you would normally go, know there are other places where the vaccines are on the shelves.”

NSW has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with a young child among 18 new deaths as the number of people hospitalised and seriously ill with COVID-19 continues to climb.

A record of 16 deaths was reported on Sunday, but that number was surpassed 24 hours later when another 18 fatalities were recorded on Monday.

The number of people hospitalised with the virus in NSW has increased by 103, to 2030.

Of those, 158 are in intensive care – eight more than the day before.

There were also 20,293 new infections reported from 84,333 conventional PCR lab tests. No data is available yet from rapid antigen tests.

Victoria recorded 34,808 new COVID-19 cases and two people died from the virus.

The new infections included 17,190 from rapid antigen tests and 17,618 from PCR tests, with the state now managing 161,065 active cases.

There are 818 patients in hospital, 66 more than the previous day, including 118 in ICU and 28 requiring ventilators.

Tasmania reported 1218 new daily infections this morning and the ACT 938 cases while Queensland reported 18,000 new cases yesterday.

SA Health is expected to release its latest figures this afternoon.

– AAP

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