There's a RAT in Phil Donato's cupboard at home and, right now, he's keen to keep it there.
The Member for Orange is like a lot of people across the region at the moment, holding on to a rapid antigen test, or a RAT as the vermin-esque acronym has led them to be dubbed, in the hope a greater supply of what is now a hot commodity in country NSW arrives soon.
But he's not confident.
"It's a bit of a debacle, really," he said.
"I haven't gotten one since Christmas. It's frustrating. People want to visit family members and no one wants to be responsible for infecting an elderly relative.
"I've tried to buy some, and you just can't. You go into a chemist and everyone is asking the same questions."
And they're questions the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP says will likely remain ahead of what he's expecting, fearing really, could be a far-from-smooth transition back to school when term one kicks off in a week's time, amid the inundation that has been the Omicron wave of the virus.
He's calling on the state government to give families clarity ahead of what is looming as a third straight schooling year that could potentially feel the impact of COVID-19.
"People are now at the stage where they want to know what's going on," Mr Donato said.
"It's still all very confusing and up in the air. People can't source RATs. I know they're talking about more being available, but it's very difficult at the moment.
I think the government itself is making it up on the run, and I can understand that, but it's not satisfactory in these circumstances.Orange MP Phil Donato
"It's a difficult position, but it's certainly hardest on schools and teachers and staff. We need more rapid tests."
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday said the state's back-to-school plan would be detailed in the coming days.
On January 9, Mr Perrottet said the NSW Government will receive 50 million tests from mid-January to February, with a further 50 million tests being sourced for delivery from February and into March.
He said those rapid antigen tests will play a minor role to help students return safely when term one begins, which is on January 28 for some schools.
Mr Donato said that's all well and go, if you can find a RAT.
A website named just that - findarat.com - shows there's no available rapid tests in Orange as of Friday, January 21, with the closest being in two locations in Bathurst and then one at Blayney, the Bernardi's marketplace.
The lines for PCR tests at Wade Park and the Showground have been far quicker this week, with reports of queues at the former lasting no longer than 15 minutes.
But, Mr Donato said, understandably, people are skeptical about being forced into an extended isolation period while waiting for test results having being burned in the past. Some PCR test results have taken as long as a week to be returned to people.
The Member for Orange says it's that uncertainty families need eased.
"I think there will be a few teething issues, I suspect there will be. I don't know if it's going to be a smooth transition," he said looking at term one just around the corner.
"What's the arrangement with testing? If a student does test positive, what's the arrangement there? I think the government itself is making it up on the run, and I can understand that, but it's not satisfactory in these circumstances."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...