There were massive lineups for Covid testing this Christmas, with a mayor saying he had heard reports that clinics were in “collapse”.
A Sydney mayor said he heard reports that testing clinics were ‘collapsing’ in his area as wait times skyrocketed in parts of the state in the middle of a day record of infections.
One person, who is an employee of the state parliament and was looking to get tested as a close contact, was in line at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick.
They said they saw dozens of people appearing to be turned away amid an overwhelming demand, while others lined up for more than five hours before being tested.
“We got there at 8am, the place opened at 9am and we were tested around 3:10 pm,” the person said.
“At 2:00 pm they said, ‘Look, we just can’t test everyone that’s already lined up.’
“One woman said she had done four positive rapid antigen tests and they just had to turn her down because they didn’t have the staff. There were a lot of angry and frustrated people.
“At first, people moved away, but as the day got hotter, people squeezed in the shade.”
Randwick Mayor Dylan Parker said he had heard reports that local testing was “in collapse”.
“Hundreds of people lined up for several hours with several closed passages,” he posted on Facebook.
“It appears Prince of Wales Hospital is no longer accepting walk-in visits because the queue is too long.
“This mess was completely predictable.”
Cr Parker said Randwick’s three regular trips to clinics were closed on Christmas Day, adding stress to those that remained open as people sought tests to travel and before rallies.
“Previously there were restrictions on the opening hours of clinics. We said all of those restrictions were gone. If they have to run seven days a week, on public holidays, if they have to start at six in the morning and run until ten at night, they can do it, ”he said.
“The locals do the right thing and get tested – they miss Christmas.
“Anyone would have expected that as Christmas approaches there will be an increased demand for testing.”
A spokesperson for the Prince of Wales has denied that people have been turned away.
“I’ve been told they don’t turn people down, but the line is very long. They interrupted the line for a little while because they were taking children to the front lines, but they did not turn back people, ”said the spokesperson.
Reasons contributing to demand
Queensland, Tasmania and Washington State require negative PCR testing of visitors taken within 72 hours of arriving from “high risk” or “hot spot” areas.
NSW requires a negative test if travelers are considered “casual contacts”.
The growing number of cases across the country and testing for close and occasional contacts, as well as reduced hours at testing clinics on Christmas Day, are also adding to the queues at open clinics.
In Sydney, which has recorded 6,288 new cases of Covid, four long lines were seen at the drive-thru test clinic alongside Bondi Beach, as other Christmas revelers flocked to the beach to celebrate the day.
The Royal North Shore Hospital had wait times of about two to three hours before noon.
Staff were seen handing out water to those waiting.
The Covid-19 testing clinic at Millers Point is said to have waited about an hour in the morning, with times decreasing throughout the day.
In South Australia, there was about a three-hour wait at the Victoria Park testing clinic in the morning, while the Ridgehaven drive-through clinic only had a few cars waiting until noon.
In Victoria, some test sites reached capacity soon after opening, including the Burwood Test Center at Deakin University.
At Sandringham Hospital in Victoria, there was a four hour wait time on Christmas morning.
A spokesperson for NSW Health said they were monitoring demand.
“NSW Health is closely monitoring the demand for testing and has the ability to extend hours of operation, introduce additional drive-thru sites and establish additional pop-up clinics when needed,” said declared the spokesperson.
“As of December 25, 2021, the New South Wales Pathology Services have performed over 24 million tests.
“NSW Health thanks the community for their incredible response in showing up for testing, as Covid-19 transmission rates rise statewide. “