Slow deliveries of free COVID testing kits is impacting the supply to regional WA, with some Mid West residents yet to receive their allocation despite the State Government launching the program more than a month ago. The State Government on March 15 expanded its free rapid antigen testing program, meaning each WA household would be eligible for 15 free kits instead of five. Phase one of the initiative — which saw registrations open for five free kits— launched at the end of February, but some Mid West residents are yet to receive their tests. A Midwest Times reporter based in Geraldton placed an order for the free RAT kits on the same day the second phase of the program was announced, with Australia Post confirming the package would be delivered by March 23. But the postal service later the delivery would take longer to arrive due to “unexpected congestion” in the Australia Post network. Shadow minister for regional health Martin Aldridge said West Australians should have access to the free testing kits regardless of where they live. “We are aware of many people in regional WA that are still waiting (for their RAT kits),” he said. “The impact of not having any rapid antigen testing available on our PCR testing system is that it is overwhelmed. It is really important people have access no matter where they live.” Mr Aldridge said regional communities were in desperate need of RAT kits due to their limited access to PCR testing facilities. “Despite many regional communities having limited COVID-19 testing options, if any at all, access to RATs does not appear to be reaching small and remote communities where they are needed most.” “We have seen recent failure of testing capacity in Geraldton and Yalgoo in the Mid West, where the WA Country Health Service could not staff testing facilities,” he said. ”Many small communities do not have WACHS facilities or private testing clinics and therefore are required to travel, placing pressure on testing services in other towns and centres. Some have taken to social media to express their frustration over the delays, with one Geraldton resident saying she has spent more than $200 on RAT kits due to program delivery issues. Regional Alliance West operations manager Chris Gabelish said the delivery system also posed problems for Geraldton’s homeless population, who did not have a permanent address to register for the free kits. “Most homeless people in Geraldton are couch surfing with other people without an address. That would rule out them being able to claim,” he said. “At a human level it’s about having a conversation with people, asking them if they do have a permanent address, and if no, then have the capacity to actually have a confidential conversation because people obviously don’t want to talk about their homelessness when other people can hear it.” A State Government spokesperson said about 60 per cent of RAT kit orders had been dispatched. They said orders from regional WA were being prioritised and deliveries are being dispatched according to the timing of registration and postal logistics. Residents in remote communities will receive 20 RATs per household. This is more than the 15 tests available to other households around the State because of the distance from services and access to postage. Additional free RAT kits will be distributed at community hubs across the State, with Stirling Central shopping centre in Geraldton to acting as a distribution hub earlier this week.