NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has criticised his own government and the Commonwealth for forcing rural residents who are COVID close contacts into a "limbo of farcical proportions" through a shortage of rapid antigen tests.
Mr Marshall called on NSW Health to urgently increase the supply of the tests in rural areas to free people from what he called a "virtual endless lockdown".
The Commonwealth should offer the tests "at a capped price, or free," he said.
Current rules require people identified as a 'close contact' of a COVID case to remain in lockdown until they test negative to the virus.
The MP said there was no easy way for many rural residents to access a rapid antigen test in order to follow the rules correctly.
"I know of a constituent living on a property in the Guyra area, who became a close contact early in January, and has since embarked on what has become the great RAT hunt of 2022," he said
"His family were able to source a limited number of RATs at an inflated cost, but the supply didn't stretch to the whole family.
"When asked for the nearest supply, NSW Health advised the family to take a seven hour round-trip to Coolah, where testing kits were then available.
"It's ridiculous and I'll be pushing for NSW Health to review the supply and really start giving a RATs for our communities."
Mr Marshall contracted COVID-19 last year, before he was eligible to be vaccinated.
"Our communities need immediate access to RATs and the federal government needs to step up and make those kits easily available at a capped price, or free," he said.
People identified as a close contact must confirm a negative RAT result on day one and then day six of their self-isolation.
If they test positive, they isolate for seven days and end self-isolation 24 hours after being symptom-free.
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