Warning Over Faulty DIY Coronavirus Test Kits After Import Seizures
Australians are being urged to be wary of faulty coronavirus test kits and other DIY home COVID-19 products after several packages from China and Hong Kong were seized at the border.
The Home Affairs department said Australian Border Force officers intercepted several defective coronavirus products sent from overseas in recent weeks.
ABF officers seized 200 homemade coronavirus tests flown from China via Singapore, arriving in Perth on March 16.
Similar detections have since been made in Perth, where 50 units were seized on March 23, and in Melbourne, where 39 tests were intercepted on March 27.
The government said both of the packages were sent from Hong Kong.
The warning comes after the government introduced tougher penalties for price gouging and hoarding essential goods, such as personal protective gear, disinfectants and other medical products.
The new laws could see people who export items such as face masks and hand sanitiser can receive fines of up to $63,000 or face five years imprisonment.
The laws were reportedly sparked by a Chinese-backed business sending 10,000 masks, 30,000 protective gowns and 68,000 disposable gloves to Shanghai from Sydney several months ago before the coronavirus crisis had taken hold in Australia.
During the human biosecurity emergency period, people will be forced to surrender essential medical supplies to the Australian Federal Police if they're sold or offered for more than 120 percent of the price of which they were purchased.
Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton said COVID-19 home tests are not authorised and present a serious risk to public health.
“Inaccurate results could prevent people from seeking the medical help they need, or alternatively, discourage people who should be self-isolating from doing so,” Dutton said.
“The Therapeutic Goods Administration has ruled the tests kits as unapproved medical devices. These are risks the Australian community simply can’t afford to be taking at this critical time."
Dutton said ABF officers were "on alert" for DIY COVID-19 products and working day and night to ensure they didn't end up at Australian homes.
"The TGA has confirmed that the test kits are not registered for use in Australia and the importers did not have approval to import them," he said.
"The only approved tests for COVID-19 in Australia currently are laboratory based tests or tests that can be used by health professionals at the point of care such as in hospitals or clinics."