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The price you pay: Visitors cry foul over cost of Covid testing

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There is concern travellers to Queensland will be stuck with the bill for mandatory COVID-19 tests, required to enter the state once the 80 per cent vaccination threshold is reached, as governments debate who should pay.

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The state government has been resolute about the need for PCR tests, that can cost around $145 through private providers, rather than cheap rapid antigen test kits tests now available at chemists and supermarkets.

“To put it roughly, rapid antigen tests are about 70 per cent as effective as PCR,” the state’s acting chief health officer Peter Aitken said on Sunday.

PCR laboratory tests are considered the “gold standard” of COVID-19 detection, and Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath on Sunday dismissed removing the requirement, suggesting the federal government should consider subsidising the cost.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said much of the pathology testing throughout the pandemic has been covered by Medicare, and it was up to Queensland to explain why it appeared to be passing the cost onto families.

“The Federal Government has picked up the vast bulk of the bill in this pandemic … I’ll leave it to the Queensland government to explain this impost,” Frydenberg told Channel Nine on Monday.

All states and territories agreed to a split funding arrangement to cover “asymptomatic testing” where people can “just turn up”, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday.

“I’ve seen that Queensland has been considering not doing that. That would be very unfortunate because that would prevent families from reuniting,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio station.

“We’re continuing on with all of our arrangements, from their perspective I hope that at the very time they want to bring people in, they don’t reduce access to testing.”

Under Queensland’s reopening plan once the 80 per cent double-dose milestone is reached, fully vaccinated travellers must return a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

Testing for people with COVID-19 symptoms has been free throughout the pandemic.

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