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Australian regulator to review price hike in COVID-19 antigen tests

Australian regulator to review price hike in COVID-19 antigen tests

FILE PHOTO: Healthcare workers administer tests at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing clinic as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Sydney, Australia, December 30, 2021. REUTERS/Nikki Short

Australia's antitrust regulator said on Tuesday (Jan 4) that it had contacted suppliers of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to examine pricing pressures in the market, as calls grow louder for the government to make the tests free amid a severe shortage of the kits.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a statement that it will review information received from suppliers, retailers and the public to determine any potential misconduct.

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to relieve pressure on overrun COVID-19 testing facilities and encouraged greater use of antigen tests as the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant caused a surge in cases in Australia's two most populous states.

As of Tuesday, New South Wales and Victoria reported 37,151 new cases between them, just shy of the national one-day high of 37,212 hit a day earlier. Hospitalisations in New South Wales, home to Sydney, more than doubled in a week to 1,344, surpassing the record numbers hit during the Delta outbreak.

The country is facing a shortage of rapid antigen test kits, while Morrison said that the government would not cover the cost for people to test themselves, which he put at A$15 (US$10.80).

The ACCC also cautioned businesses to not collude on pricing and make any misleading claims to consumers about it.

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Source: Reuters/kg
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