Prime Minister Scott Morrison in mask.
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  • The consumer watchdog will monitor for price-gouging, as demand for Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) skyrockets amid COVID-19 testing clinic delays
  • Widespread delays have been felt across NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria as residents try to get a PCR test at COVID-19 testing clinics
  • Multiple clinics have closed due to staff shortages, while increased demand has resulted in test results being delayed or lost
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to offer free RATs to Australians, saying it wasn’t the time to offer tests for free
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is monitoring the sales of RATs and vowed to pursue companies which are hiking up prices

The consumer watchdog has vowed to take action against price-gouging, as demand for Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) skyrockets amid delays at COVID-19 testing clinics.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Tuesday it was monitoring the sales of RATs and vowed to pursue companies caught hiking up prices.

Demand for at-home tests has skyrocketed alongside daily case numbers in Australia, with tens-of-thousand of COVID-19 infections now being recorded daily.

PCR tests are available at COVID-19 testing clinics across the nation, however, overwhelming demand has resulted in huge delays in accessing and receiving a diagnosis.

Multiple clinics across NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria have closed due to staff shortages, while other have lost results or are returning a diagnoses one week late.

Commenting on the demand for testing, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said the lack of available PCR testing was pushing up the cost of RATs.

“We are seeking information from suppliers about their costs and the current pricing of rapid antigen tests,” he said.

“We are also asking them about their current stock levels, and the amounts on order, and about their expectations about when additional tests may become readily available to consumers.”

“We won’t be shy to name and shame suppliers and retailers we consider to be doing the wrong thing.”

The ACCC’s action comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to make RATs free, stating “we’re now at a stage of the pandemic where you can’t just make everything free.”

Mr Morrison instead argued it was a matter for State and Territory Governments to provide free at-home tests to close contacts of the virus.

The PM also vowed not to undercut businesses selling the RATs.

“By making that policy very, very clear, then that means the private market, they can now go and stock their shelves with confidence that they won’t be undercut by the government,” he said.

The move has sparked backlash from Federal Labor as well as the Australian Medical Association, who argue the federal government, and not the business, should provide COVID-19 tests.

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