Freight industry calls for national unity on Covid testing of interstate drivers

Multiple industry associations agree that the movement of interstate freight throughout Australia during these times of Covid transmission are vital for all communities to remain supplied of food and goods.

The following joint statement is endorsed by National Road Transport Association, Victorian Transport Association, Western Roads Federation, NT Road Transport Association, Queensland Trucking Association and Tasmanian Transport Association.

“As the uncertainty of control of the spread of the virus amongst our community continues, it is incumbent upon the interstate heavy vehicle sector to meet its responsibilities as it regularly moves throughout the community and not spread the virus.

“Current testing regimes for Covid-19 for all interstate heavy vehicle drivers vary from two-day, three-day and weekly testing cycles. The weekly cycles of testing can be met within the industry sector however, the less than a week cycles are difficult to meet due to issues with fatigue management, testing locations and physical intrusion upon the individual.

“Having a pipette pushed to the back of the nasal cavity every few days wears the skin and creates blood noses on a regular basis. This is a health risk in itself.

“To meet all obligations while still being able to remain unharmed the combined state transport associations have endorsed the appeal to change the current testing regime to include the Ellume type testing and provide the same level of Covid security.

“It is proposed that interstate heavy vehicle drivers be tested every two or three days using the Ellume process and then have standard Covid test through a registered testing laboratory weekly. This would mean that the driver could carry out a self-test throughout the week, check their clearance of the virus and be sure that they are not infecting others.

“Accessible, reliable, and fast diagnostics are integral to the Covid-19 response. The Ellume rapid testing regime provides a result within 5-15 minutes to reduce an individual’s personal intrusion, manage outbreaks and community transmission, and reduce pressure on healthcare systems.

“The individual can then be able to be sure of their ability to meet the increase in testing and not have the physical discomfort and pain.

“We request that the Therapeutic Goods Administration grant an exemption for Ellume testing as has been done with HIV (2014) and Flu (2019) to include specifically the interstate heavy vehicle driver sector under specific conditions.

“It is important to note that we are not requesting that the Ellume process replace the process of testing through an accredited pathology laboratory but rather to minimise the risk and discomfort associated with meeting current requirements.

“Freight drivers have maintained their social licence to continue working despite invasive testing requirements that have been a source of angst and distress for many. They deserve a better testing regime that respects their physical and mental health and well-being, whilst keeping the community safe from transport-related outbreaks.”