The ACT government is being urged to fund rapid coronavirus swabs for pharmacists to help keep them at work.
The ACT branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has welcomed Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s support for widespread rapid antigen testing as vaccination coverage rises.
Since lockdown started last month, 37 Canberra pharmacies had been caught up in 82 community virus exposures.
“Becoming an exposure site places huge pressure on a pharmacy,” ACT branch president Renae Beardmore said.
“They will often need to reduce their hours or services if their staff are required to quarantine.”
She wanted the government to fund rapid antigen tests, which can return results in 15 minutes but are not always as accurate, for pharmacy staff.
Ms Beardmore labelled the tests a cheap and worthwhile government investment at $10 each.
The chief minister supported their widespread use to pick up asymptomatic and fully vaccinated cases, but declined to specify any industries.
“If they produce a positive result and get someone who would otherwise be infectious in the community in quarantine, then that would be a great outcome,” Mr Barr told reporters.
The ACT recorded 16 new infections on Thursday, seven of which could be linked.
None of the cases were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.
At least 11 were in the community for some of the time.