Twenty schools in Victoria will receive the first batch of free at-home antigen tests next week. Following the seven-day trial, all other schools in Victoria will be given access to the tests.
According to reports, the antigen tests will be options, and only unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students will receive a slot. The tests will also be available for students age 12 years old and below if they were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in school.
Free antigen tests will lessen students' quarantine period
Victoria's Deputy Premier James Merlino announced this week in response to the increasing number of active COVID-19 cases in the state. As of press writing, 1,126 new cases and five deaths have been reported in Victoria.
The rapid antigen tests are expected to help lessen the COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. And it will also help reduce the number of days that students need to be in quarantine.
Prior to the announcement, students who tested positive for COVID-19 and those who were in close contact with someone who tested positive are required to quarantine for 14 days.
But with the advent of the antigen tests, students can return to school within seven days as long as their results come back negative. After which, the student needs to take the rapid antigen test daily from days 8 to 14 of the quarantine period, according to ABC.net.au.
"For kids and their families who are excited to get back to school, having to quarantine can be really frustrating - these rapid antigen tests will cut that time and get kids back in the classroom sooner. This is another way we're making learning as COVIDSafe as possible while keeping schools open," Merlino said via News.co.au.
NSW, Victoria ease down travel, entry restrictions
Victoria's decision to provide unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students with free rapid antigen tests came in the heels of the state opening its entry borders for New South Wales.
Last week, Victoria and New South Wales announced that residents of the two states could already cross their entry borders after 90 percent of their population were already fully vaccinated.
VOA News also revealed that Australians can now travel overseas without a need for permission that more and more residents have been vaccinated
However, the easing down of travel and entry restrictions in the last couple of days resulted in a surge of active COVID-19 cases.
In Victoria alone, the total number of COVID-19 active cases has already reached 16,178. And approximately 366 people have died during the Delta variant outbreak.
New South Wales sees a drop in COVID-19 cases
On the contrary, New South Wales reportedly experienced a drop in COVID-19 cases following the easing down of restrictions in the state.
According to Sky News, New South Wales recorded 187 new cases on Sunday, which shows a massive drop compared to last week's 244 new cases.
The state also recorded seven deaths - three men and four women - due to the virus. Two of those that died were fully vaccinated, another two were partially vaccinated, and three were unvaccinated.