Rapid Antigen Testing needed to keep pharmacy doors open
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) calls on the NSW Government to introduce funded Rapid Antigen Testing for pharmacists and their staff to ensure the vital care they offer to the community can continue.
As frontline healthcare workers, the welfare of our pharmacists affects the health and welfare of the community. By introducing Rapid Antigen Testing for pharmacists and their staff, pharmacists will be able to monitor their workforce more closely and get back-to-work sooner after a potential workplace COVID-19 exposure, ensuring access to medicines is not disrupted.
PSA NSW Branch President, Chelsea Felkai, said: “As we move into a new phase of the pandemic with significantly higher case numbers, Rapid Antigen Testing will need to play a significant role in reducing isolation periods of pharmacists and identifying infection prior to onset of symptoms in high risk settings.
“This approach is desperately needed in rural areas. Many of our regional communities are already facing significant workforce shortages. They do not have the resources or flexibility to cope when employees need to isolate for extended periods. Given that PCR test results are currently taking five or six days to be returned, this potentially closes a pharmacy for an entire week.
“With community pharmacies being one of the most frequently listed public exposure sites, pharmacy employees in hot spot areas face growing concerns about contracting COVID-19 and taking it home to their families. Pharmacists have done a great job in protecting their staff and the community from exposure to COVID-19 in community pharmacy, by wearing of PPE and practicing distancing measures. Rapid Antigen Testing is another vital tool to further protect pharmacy staff and ensure pharmacies remain open to service their communities.
“Rapid Antigen Testing can also be used as additional surveillance testing in areas of sustained community transmission. Currently this would be akin to Sydney’s LGAs of concern and regional outbreak areas such as Dubbo, Bourke and Broken Hill. But as we move into Phase B and Phase C of the reopening plan, where case numbers are much higher, there is a significantly greater need for surveillance testing of health care workers including pharmacists,” Ms Felkai said.
Whilst pharmacies that are identified as exposure sites will still need to close for deep cleaning, Rapid Antigen Testing will allow community pharmacies to bring their workforce back sooner while awaiting PCR test results. Returned in less than 15 minutes, negative tests will provide health authorities and community pharmacies with the confidence to reopen sooner, to ensure their communities continue to have access to their medicines and health services such as vaccinations.
Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463