Home test shortages due to hoarders: Joyce

Dominic Giannini |

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says panic buying and hoarding is leading to shortages of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests as Australians struggle to find the kits.

Mr Joyce said 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 told reporters in Queensland on Monday.

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

Mr Joyce said while waiting for stocks to arrive, people should exercise personal responsibility.

“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,” he said.

“It is more important than a cold, but if you had a cold you wouldn’t go around coughing and spluttering on people.”

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.

One Victorian pharmacy northwest of Geelong said pharmacies were under the impression the government would provide the RATs, which they would then distribute to concession cardholders for free.

Bannockburn Pharmacy this appeared to be not the case, with pharmacies having to source their own stock and distribute the tests to cardholders before being reimbursed by the government.

“Pharmacies were under the impression that the federal government would be allocating stock they have ordered directly to us pharmacies,” it said in a social media post.

“This would have meant that pharmacies would have received stock around the same time, making it easier for the community (if they hold a concessional card) to know when they could start collecting them.”

The pharmacy said supply was already uncertain and it didn’t know when the RATs would be delivered or if orders would be delivered in full. 

“Because pharmacies were under the impression we would be receiving stock directly from the federal government, it means now pharmacies have to go back to suppliers to increase our orders and we don’t know when and if these increased orders will be fulfilled.”

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.