The farming community orders their own RATs

By Hari Yellina
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Victoria’s top farming advocacy group has teamed up with Fruit Growers Victoria and Food and Fibre Gippsland to provide members with direct access to fast antigen tests. Expressions of interest in procuring the testing kits are extremely rampant, according to VFF president Emma Germano. Food and Fibre Gippsland, Fruit Growers Victoria, and the Victorian Farmers Federation are collaborating to get up to 100,000 Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) in the interests of minimising the interruption to our food supply chain. As part of the original deployment, the government stated that workers in sensitive environments and important workforces would be given priority.

This includes health-care employees, emergency responders, and disability and elderly-care workers. A person is considered a close contact under new national standards established earlier this month if he or she has spent four hours or more with a documented case in a household or household-like setting, such as a residential care facility. As part of the initial deployment, the government stated that workers in sensitive environments and important workforces would be given priority. “We will order as many tests as have been required from us,” Ms Germano said. “If everything goes according to plan, we should be able to deliver them next week.” Before the call for interests was opened, she claimed, 25,000 tests had already been booked by VFF members.

Contrary to many statements, the government has denied reports that supplies of kits had been diverted to the Commonwealth Department of Health. The Department of Health confirmed that all RAT supplies within and entering Australia had been requisitioned. The Department had made purchases in compliance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules and had not attempted to gain an advantage over other commercial or retail enterprises. More than 80 million RATs had been obtained by the Australian government for delivery in January and February. State and territorial administrations have also stated that they have made orders for 130 million RATs.

The delivery of the tests, according to Ms Germano, will provide the VFF with greater knowledge of how they will flow through the supply chain before being delivered.

Why Test in the Agricultural Community?

COVID-19 can swiftly spread in crowded areas, particularly communal living areas and indoor environments with little social separation. Significant outbreaks have occurred in migrant housing camps and food and beverage manufacturing or processing plants throughout the pandemic. These outbreaks pose a serious risk to employees, as well as a considerable risk of COVID-19 spreading across the population.

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