There's a new craze sweeping Australia – RAT hunting.
It's not the grey vermin we're all looking for, but rapid antigen tests for Covid, of which there is a desperate shortage.
Millions of Australians are logging on to the find-a-rat website to find shops that have some in stock, rushing out to get our hands on one, only to find a "No RAT tests" sign out the front of the shop – too late once again.
Individuals want RAT tests so they can confirm whether or not they have contracted the virus and should isolate and seek treatment, and also to test themselves before they visit elderly or sick relatives.
Businesses also want them to test their staff and confirm who can safely come to work and who should stay away so they don't spread Omicron. As such, the tests are a crucial tool for letting businesses navigate the latest and by far the largest wave of Covid and keep trading.
Omicron has cut a swathe through Australian businesses as staff contract the variant and have to stay away or are close contacts of those with the virus.
Restaurants don't have enough waiters and cooks to serve any more than a handful of diners; logistics companies don't have enough storemen and drivers to get their goods out to shops; and retailers can't find sales assistants.
In many ways the effect on businesses is worse than in the midst of the extensive lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. At least during lockdown, businesses were receiving finance support from the government to keep afloat and consumers switched a lot of their shopping to online, ensuring that revenue kept coming in.
Now retailers are struggling to get their hands on the stock to sell at the same time as consumers are ready to dip into the Covid government payments they've put away over the past couple of years.
We saw the devastating effect of the virus earlier this month.
In the first week of the New Year Australia recorded 305,375 cases of Covid-19 – dwarfing anything seen in previous surges – and spending dropped by 39 per cent.
In NSW, the state government estimates the Omicron surge will cost the NSW economy at least A$3.5 billion, according to modelling by the state's Treasury obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald.
It estimates the weekly cost of the current outbreak to be A$500-A$600 million, or 4 to 5 per cent of weekly gross state product. That figure could increase if supply chains and distribution networks are further impaired.
Some retailers have had the foresight to order rapid antigen tests ahead of the omicron strain's arrival in Australia. The canny Gerry Harvey started order thousands of RAT tests in September as he saw how the new strain was playing out overseas.
He now has enough tests to supply them to staff at his Harvey Norman stores around the country. The tests have been crucial in preventing stores from closing because staff can get a test result before turning up to work.
"We saw that Omicron virus was kicking off really strongly overseas ... and we figured it was going to here," he told reporters.
Unfortunately, Australia's governments lacked such foresight.
Attempting to explain away his Government's failures last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted that even as late as December it wasn't apparent the effect Omicron would have or that we would need RAT tests.
He said it wasn't the Government's role to secure the tests and the private sector should have done so.
This begs the question of whether the Australian Government should have played a role in securing these items because the crucial role they are playing in protecting the health of Australians and keeping the economy moving. After all, governments provide hospitals and fund medical appointments because citizens' health is considered too important to leave to the private sector alone.
And given that Morrison rejected any further lockdowns at the end of last year and said Australia should ride out the Omicron wave with life going on largely as normal, it was incumbent on him to give us the tools to do so.
It's a lesson Jacinda Ardern appears to have learned, last week announcing there were already 4.6 million of the tests in the country and tens of millions more on order.
But New Zealanders should remember that in an environment where crucial supply chains are constantly breaking down, 'on order' is very different from 'in the hand'.
In Australia, Morrison's Government says it has secured more than 80 million RATs for delivery in January and February, but that's just too little too late, particularly as it looks as if the Omicron wave is subsiding.
In the meantime, businesses will continue scrambling for the tests – sending staff off to drive from shop to shop in the hope that they can snag a few to let the business continue to operate.
Perhaps Morrison should ask Gerry Harvey if he can borrow his crystal ball.