The Northern Territory Road Transport Association (NTRTA) has criticised the time it takes for its members, who are classified as essential workers, to receive their COVID-19 test results.
The peak body wants rapid antigen tests to be available at the border to alleviate the current conundrum where results can take more than three days to come back while truck drivers are required to provide a negative COVID-19 result that’s no more than 72 hours (three days) old.
NTRTA Executive Officer, Louise Bilato, said result times varied across the country, depending upon where the tests were done.
“Here in the Territory, we’re waiting three days and sometimes even more, to get test results back,” said Bilato
“This is problematic, given that drivers require proof of a negative rapid test result that is no older than 72 hours.” she said.
Bilato said this applied whether they were crossing a border or heading to the Newmont gold mine in the Tanami Desert, the site of a COVID-19 outbreak in June 2021.
“At the Newmont mine on the Tanami road, the drivers are forced to wait at the gate until the test results turn up on their phone,” she said.
Bilato described this as a “challenging” situation, given the drivers were required to be tested three times per week.
“It’s an extra heavy mental health burden on our drivers who are negotiating the toughest unsealed roads in Australia,” she said.
“The drivers are just doing their jobs and ensuring they’re not an inadvertent carrier.”
Bilato said that rapid testing would be welcomed by the sector.
“We’re certainly seeing that it could provide another layer of protection,” she added.
Bilato is calling on both tiers of government to purchase and provide rapid antigen testing kits at the border.
“As the borders open, if you want to mitigate the risk there’s a place for these kits,” she said.
“If governments buy them, it will ensure the most efficacious and suitable quality testing kits are being used.”