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Canberrans panic buy rapid antigen tests and line up before opening hours, pharmacists say | The Canberra Times

coronavirus, rapid antigen tests, covid, covid-19, omicron, coronavirus, panic buying, covid canberra, covid act

Canberrans are panic-buying and lining up before opening hours to get hold of rapid antigen tests, pharmacists say. Dickson Capital Chemist pharmacist Thanh Hood said the chemist ordered tests, but would sell out within hours of opening each day. She said the shop sold about 120 to 150 packets of five tests each day. “We tell people that if they want it they have to [come in] early in the morning because within two to three hours they are gone,” she said. READ MORE: Ms Hood said deliveries would arrive randomly and it was difficult to order stock over the holiday period. She said there had been people waiting at the chemist before it opened at 8.30am each morning and the pharmacy had to implement purchase limits because of panic-buyers. Some customers had tried to purchase 10 to 15 boxes at a time. “Every lockdown, every time the government has new rules, people are panicking. At the moment it’s antigen tests and boosters,” she said. The Pharmacy Network’s Matt Develin said he hadn’t seen wholesalers or local chemists price gouge. The Canberra Times found most pharmacies charged about $15 for one test, and $60 for a pack of five. Nasal tests were often slightly cheaper. Mr Develin said they were more likely to be inaccurate because they had more steps. Mr Develin said his shops had been selling out each day and had been implementing limits. He said a large volume order would arrive on Wednesday, which he hoped would help meet demand. “There’s significant demand, we’re getting a lot of phone calls with regards to the availability of the test. It’s a hot product at the moment, that’s for sure,” he said. MORE COVID-19 NEWS: Mr Develin said supply was stretched because the government announced a move towards rapid antigen tests to ease pressure on PCR testing over the holiday period. “A lot of it comes down to government policy. But the reason why I think it might taper off a bit is because other supply channels will come through. As we move out of the holiday period, then supply will increase,” he said. “I think the biggest challenge which people will not have thought about is Chinese New Year is coming up and a lot of these tests are produced in China. IN OTHER COVID NEWS: “Come the middle of January, everything pretty well shuts down until early February … you won’t get any meaningful supply until the end of February.” Ms Hood said customers could abuse staff because they couldn’t bulk buy the tests. “It is not our fault, we do our best. [With] the limited selling, we want to do that so that everyone can have a [test],” she said. “People are frustrated and take it out on us all the time. It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last.” Mr Develin said pharmacies had borne the brunt of many COVID policy decisions, but he hadn’t seen customers abuse staff over the rapid antigen tests. Both pharmacists agreed offering free antigen tests to Australians would lead to waste. Mr Develin said there should be concessions for low-income Australians, such as pensioners. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he agreed with the federal decision to charge for most tests. “If you’re having five people over for dinner and you want them to have a [rapid antigen test] before they come into your house, that’s a private matter,” he said. “But if you require a test for any public health reason, that would be publicly covered.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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