NSW residents have rushed to post positive results from rapid antigen tests since the start of the year, as the state government admits it will be “almost impossible” to apply fines for non-compliance.
By Thursday morning, more than 78,000 people had uploaded positive results from tests taken since January 1, Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said.
This is a jump of about 25,000 from the 53,000 results posted by Wednesday afternoon.
The reporting system for positive RAT results went live on Wednesday morning and while the requirement only became mandatory on the day, NSW residents have been asked to add tests taken since the start of the year.
From January 19, the government will begin imposing a $1000 fine on anyone who does not report their positive RAT result.
Mr Dominello admits that will be very difficult to do but the government had to send a message that reporting a positive result was important.
“It’s almost going to be impossible in many ways to enforce,” he told Nine Network.
“But the majority of the states and territories in the country have gone down the path of issuing a fine or putting a fine in place – Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT – and some have chosen the other path of just saying please do it.”
Mr Dominello said registering a test result was mainly about connecting infected people with any health care need they might need or federal government financial assistance.
The number of COVID-19 cases in NSW is expected to spike as the government begins adding RAT results to standard PCR test results.
NSW Health will provide an update on infection numbers at 9am on Thursday.
Prior to the RAT reporting regime, the state opposition had warned authorities were “flying blind” without an accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the community.
But actually finding a RAT remains a challenge for many, until more supply gets into the system.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns says the lack of tests reflects the government’s failure to plan and is hurting the health system as well as the economy.
“Many provisions that have been put in place over the last week require people to have access to rapid antigen tests to prove whether they can work or not, whether they should be allowed out of close contact provisions regulations or not,” he said.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says the government is considering a voucher-style system to distribute the tests.
Meanwhile, amendments to public health orders came into effect on Wednesday clarifying that people who have already tested positive for COVID-19 and completed their self-isolation period do not need to isolate again if they are a close or household contact of a positive case, if it’s within four weeks of their isolation period.
More than 29,000 NSW primary school-aged children – or about four per cent – had received their first dose of a vaccine by Tuesday, and on Wednesday the premier committed again to having children in classrooms on the first day of term.