Rapid testing kit option for truckies urgently needed, says peak bodies

The nation’s trucking associations have joined forces ahead of this Friday’s National Cabinet meeting to make a case that self-testing kits be approved for truckies.

In a joint statement released today, the peak bodies highlight that current Covid testing regimes for all interstate heavy vehicle drivers vary from two-day, three-day and weekly testing cycles.

“The weekly cycles of testing can be met within the industry sector however, the less than a week cycles are difficult to meet due to issues with fatigue management, testing locations and physical intrusion upon the individual,” the statement reads.

“Having a pipette pushed to the back of the nasal cavity every few days wears the skin and creates blood noses on a regular basis. This is a health risk in itself.”

To meet all obligations while still being able to remain unharmed the combined state transport associations have endorsed the appeal to change the current testing regime to include the Ellume type testing and provide the same level of Covid security.

It is proposed that interstate heavy vehicle drivers be tested every two or three days using the Ellume process and then have standard Covid test through a registered testing laboratory weekly.

“This would mean that the driver could carry out a self-test throughout the week, check their clearance of the virus and be sure that they are not infecting others.”

The Ellume rapid testing regime provides a result within 5-15 minutes to reduce an individual’s personal intrusion, manage outbreaks and community transmission, and reduce pressure on healthcare systems.

The individual can then be able to be sure of their ability to meet the increase in testing and not have the physical discomfort and pain.

“It is important to note that we are not requesting that the Ellume process replace the process of testing through an accredited pathology laboratory but rather to minimise the risk and discomfort associated with meeting current requirements.

“Freight drivers have maintained their social licence to continue working despite invasive testing requirements that have been a source of angst and distress for many.

“They deserve a better testing regime that respects their physical and mental health and well-being, whilst keeping the community safe from transport-related outbreaks.”

QTA CEO Gary Mahon said the associations’ joint proposal would reduce the pressure on the health system, reduce current queuing times and provide a simple and efficient alternative for truck drivers to comply with mandatory testing requirements.

“In the normal course of their job, truck drivers are able to keep isolated in their vehicle and have little or no contact with people at delivery sites,” he added.

“To comply with mandatory testing requirements, currently they have to enter testing locations with symptomatic people which exposes them to unnecessary risks.”

Brisbane-based Ellume Health’s home Covid-19 self-test kits are currently approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however federal government laws prevent home tests being sold in Australia.

National Cabinet noted that recent changes to Health Orders by a number of jurisdictions have created “inconsistent arrangements” between jurisdictions for freight drivers.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he planned to put this issue on the agenda for the cabinet’s next meeting this Friday.

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