Rapid antigen testing in NSW schools is “unlikely” to continue past the fourth week of term, despite filling an important role in the return of children to classrooms.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Tuesday it was “unlikely” rapid antigen tests will continue beyond the end of February, with the government “assessing what we’re going to do from week four (of term) onwards”.
On Friday it was announced the education department was distributing 17.5 million more tests to maintain testing protocols until then.
It came after more than 3000 people – about 2400 students and more than 600 school workers – tested positive to coronavirus in the first week of term.
Teachers Federation NSW president Angelo Gavrielatos said the union would be “seeking further discussions with senior officials … in order to see how things may progress beyond that four week period”.
“There’s no doubt that the rapid antigen testing is identifying people who would otherwise be in schools infected,” he told AAP on Friday.
Some 43.2 per cent of primary school aged children have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
The outbreak in NSW has subsided from its heights in mid-January, with cases increasing on Tuesday, but remaining in the thousands.
There were 9690 cases and 18 deaths reported on Tuesday.
Hospitalisations continued to fall to 2068, with 132 people in intensive care and 61 of them on ventilators.
Mr Perrottet vowed to forge ahead and keep “the economy moving” on Tuesday, saying he wants “all industries back as quickly as possible” as the state rebounds from the recent outbreak that infected more than a million people in a matter of weeks.
“We need business open and lockdown is not the right approach,” Mr Perrottet says.
He said the best thing people could do is get vaccinated, including a booster shot for those eligible.
Some 44 per cent of NSW has now received a third dose, which includes people getting boosters as well as immunocompromised people receiving a third dose as a top up.