Mandatory RAT signaling another sign of no workable plan

The introduction of mandatory reporting of rapid antigen test results in Australia is ridiculous, full of holes and will lead to misleading data being compiled, argues Madonna King.

The mandatory self-reporting of home COVID tests that our state governments require could be the start of an innovative DIY detection program that we should all encourage.

After all, why stop at RAT results?

Why not lock yourself up for speeding? Or double parking? Or self-declare each time we put our recyclables in the wrong bin? Or jaywalk?

In a litany of absurdities as the story of COVID winds its way through the 2020s, a test result you’ll be lucky enough to find tops the list.

And that highlights two undeniable factors.

First, government incompetence and the absence of any real innovation means that the work falls on the rest of us, especially those who might be sick and in pain.

And second, the idea is so ridiculous, it’s almost funny. It is full of holes, cannot be implemented – and government ministers admit it – and leads to misleading data results.

How can you download a result when you can’t access a RAT?

You can not. And for this large cohort of people to be ignored in the results published every day.

The same goes for those who take the test and ignore these mandatory and unenforceable rules to tell the government.

Another cohort – and this one involves health officials – is also missing from any statistical analysis, and that’s because they don’t see the relevance of an at-home test that just creates anxiety.

“It doesn’t change the treatment,” says a medical professional. “So why bother?”

Their point of view is widely reflected and carries an inconvenient truth.

With the symptoms of COVID-19, should we really be driving from the pharmacy to the supermarket to try and get tested? Or should we stay home, with limited contact until the disease – COVID or a cold or stomach flu – passes?

Reliance on this test – when it does not change the outcome of the disease – is becoming fanciful, with some sellers now wanting buyers to return negative RATs before being allowed to carry out home inspections.

The black market for their sale is also well underway, with desperate parents pleading on Facebook sites that they will pay what is needed to get their child tested.

But why?

If they are really sick, isn’t it advisable to take them to the nearest hospital or call an ambulance?

And if they have a slight sniffle, aren’t we told to watch them, give them water, and do what we would do in a time of flu, to get them back to full health quickly.

How will a rapid antigen test, or upload of the result, change this treatment?

It’s not. And the mandatory RAT self-declaration is just another example of our leaders clinging to straws because they have no workable plan to counter a daily tally that continues to climb.

Why even suggest compulsory self-declaration when they admit, at the same time, that it is inapplicable? What could they hope to achieve?

When this COVID hangover passes — and it will — what must be mandatory is a thorough review of how our state and federal leaders have handled this pandemic.

What worked? And what went wrong?

Certainly, the value of research to find a vaccine quickly should be recognized and applauded.

The same goes for tests, rapidly being developed, to diagnose the virus (although approval for at least one local test remains in a bin in Canberra).

But the role of our leaders must also be studied.

What could they do better next time? What kind of public policy planning could have eased the burden of those separated from their families or battling illness alone at home?

We also need to ensure that these results are self-reported, as this is a DIY scheme that could prove beneficial.

This column was first published in The new daily. Read the original article here.

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