Illawarra residents pay eye-watering $22 for elusive tests as kits sell out in hours | Illawarra Mercury

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Forget the hen’s teeth, or those needles in hay stacks, we all know the humble RAT kit is the most sought after item in the country at the moment. Famously selling out faster than your favourite concert tickets, people have been known to drive for hours and from one end of the Illawarra to the other in search of the elusive kits, especially when the alternative is a long wait in line at a PCR testing clinic. So when the newly launched website ‘Find a RAT’ showed individual kits were in stock at the Metro Petroleum Service Station in Wollongong on Sunday morning, residents turned up at the store in droves in the hope of securing a kit – even at the eye-watering price of $22 for a single test. Among those who grabbed a handful was Mt Keira resident Eleanor McNeill, who had only just come out of a seven-day isolation period following a positive test on New Year’s Eve. She said she was picking the kits up for friends who were still sick. “They’re so hard to find – I called five different pharmacies and they didn’t have any, then I saw that here had some stock,” she said. “The price is insane too.” Terry Darby drove all the way from Woonona to pick up tests for her daughter’s family, who were currently isolating, while Steph made the trip from Shellharbour to Wollongong in less than half an hour. “When I called the service station they said they had 500 kits left and they’d sell out of those within an hour,” she said. “I work in beauty and we’re going back to work tomorrow so I want all my employees to have a test before we start.” Read more: Illawarra hospitals, staff ‘not coping’ amid COVID crisis Meanwhile, North Wollongong’s Kate Campbell purchased kits ahead of sending her children back to daycare. “They had a positive case so we need to get negative tests to go back,” she said. “I came straight up when I saw on the website that they had kits.” Amanda Reeves travelled from Russell Vale to buy tests for her family, but twice had to return to the store when she discovered the kits were not complete. “My partner works in Western Australia so we need them for when he goes back to work,” she said. “I’ve been looking for them for a couple of days but they’re so hard to find.” Residents who test positive via a rapid antigen test will be required to register the result through Service NSW and NSW Health. The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.


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