Episodes
Video Extras
ArticlesLinks
More
Back

Australia's Quarantine System 'Not Ready' For International Borders To Re-Open

Australia's quarantine system is not yet ready to handle the resumption of international travel from the country, the chair of coalition for epidemic preparedness has said.

While some states have indicated a resumption of overseas travel for Australians once key vaccination targets are reached, Jane Halton says quarantine would still be required for returning travellers.

"[Quarantine] will be limited, probably, opening in that early point," she told ABC TV.

"International travel will, for a while, still require some form of quarantine."

It comes as Victoria became the latest state to join a national trial of home quarantine, rather than travellers undergoing quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.

A similar trial is under way in South Australia.

Ms Halton said it would be an important tool in Australia's arsenal as international travel resumes.

"It will actually give people an opportunity to stay in a familiar and comfortable environment," she said.

She said having the technology up and running was key to speeding up the return of international travel.

It coincides with the Therapeutic Goods Administration indicating that rapid antigen testing would be available in homes from November 1.

While no company has a kit ready for the Australian market, Therapeutic Goods Administration boss John Skerritt is confident hurdles will be cleared over the next month.

All tests granted approval for home use need to be effective for the Delta variant.

Instructions must be suitable for about a year-seven level of reading or people for whom English is a second language.

Packaging must include a 1800 number to ring for advice on results or other issues with rapid antigen tests.

Ms Halton said they were just as effective as the current testing being undertaken at clinics.

"[It] provides a huge opportunity to track where the virus is and give people important information," she said.

"If you can get a rapid antigen testing to be done at home, and if it looks like you are COVID-positive, and make sure it is confirmed with a PCR test, it will be a huge innovation."

Home rapid antigen tests, which can return results in 20 minutes, have been used overseas for months.

But Australian authorities have been cautious in expanding use beyond selected workplaces because of concerns around accuracy compared to nose and throat swabs.