Twiggy’s 10m tests to vanquish coronavirus in Australia
Efforts to defeat coronavirus in Australia have received a huge boost, with billionaire Andrew Forrest securing 10 million additional tests.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the mining magnate's Minderoo philanthropic foundation has already brought in 10 plane loads containing nearly four million COVID-19 detection kits from China, Europe and the United States, plus 27 labs that will be installed in every state and territory.
The exact cost of the highly sought after haul is not known, but is believed to be close to $200 million.
It follows Minderoo's purchase of tens of tonnes of critical personal protective equipment, including more than a million masks and 200,000 medical coveralls.
The foundation said it had been working with governments across the nation and that its latest purchases would treble the nation's testing rate.
Dr Forrest last night told The Telegraph he hoped the surge in detection capability would lead to restrictions being lifted more rapidly.
"You can test very slowly and your economy comes out of jail very slowly, or you can test very quickly and your economy comes out of jail very quickly," the Fortescue Metals chairman said.
"Government now has the firepower to shut down the virus instead of shut down the economy."
Increasing testing is one of the conditions Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put on an ease of the freeze, along with better tracing and speedier containment.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the additional testing capacity was vital.
It "affirms and strengthens our essential pathway out of the current restrictions and our investability as a nation," Mr Hunt said.
The precise increase in each state and territory 's capacity is not known, but it could bring daily testing in NSW to 12,000.
NSW has been testing about 4000 people daily, although there have been up to 8000 tests on some days.
So far, about 530,000 tests have been done in Australia with 6731 people confirmed as carrying coronavirus. Of these, 5626 or 84 per cent have recovered.
Each lab is understood to be built around machines that can process as many as 96 samples at once.
It's expected 13 labs will be up and running in less than three weeks, with the remainder in place by mid-year.
Minderoo, which was established by Dr Forrest and his wife Nicola nearly 20 years ago, will be reimbursed for the kits as they are used.
The deluge of detection kits it has delivered builds on Sydney Olympic bid mastermind Rod McGeoch's efforts to improve NSW's access to medical supplies from China, as first revealed by The Telegraph last week.
Originally published as Twiggy's 10m tests to vanquish coronavirus in Australia