COVID-19 testing sites wait times blow out

author avatar
Waiting: The Shepparton Showground site was reopened to help with the extended wait times. Photo by Megan Fisher

In response to the increased demand in COVID-19 testing across the state, the Victorian Department of Health is urging residents to delay testing for travel purposes until after noon as a way to minimise the blowout in wait times.

Test sites have been overwhelmed with close contacts, people with symptoms and, most commonly, travellers readying to leave the state who must receive a PCR test and negative result within 72 hours of their flight.

In a statement Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said PCR testing for interstate travel is “not the most efficient use of testing resources in the current environment”.

“We recognise that Victorians getting tested for travel are simply doing the right thing and following the rules in place at their destination,” he said.

“We kindly ask people who are getting a PCR test for travel purposes to get tested after 12pm daily.

“This will help reduce testing demand for symptomatic people and contacts during the busier morning period.”

COVID-19 testing sites in the Goulburn Valley have faced increased demand in the past week, with some people braving the heat for up to six hours in line at Goulburn Valley Health’s Respiratory Clinic, which closed early on Boxing Day after reaching capacity.

The Shepparton Showgrounds testing site, closed for the Christmas period, was reopened early on Monday, December 27, with altered hours to help alleviate the long wait times.

“Our testing staff are doing their best to work through the queue as quickly as possible but due to the increased demand for testing, there are delays,” a GV Health spokesperson said.

“Anyone requiring a COVID-19 test is encouraged to wear sun protection and bring a drink bottle for the wait.”

Working in partnership with GV Health, the Kyabram District Health Service also stepped up to assist by extending the hours of their COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic.

Kyabram District Health Service acting chief executive Wendy Ross said the Kyabram site tested 400 people on Monday, the most completed in one day in the region since testing started.

“There are a lot of people who are being tested for travel purposes, estimated to be about 50 per cent of tests undertaken,” she said.

“There have been minimal wait times except for Monday when the wait time got up to approximately four hours.”

Mrs Ross said the site exceeded capacity but staff worked through by extending hours to meet the demands of the community.

“The KDHS staff have been exceptional in supporting the community access local testing, 10 staff came in from their days off and annual leave to man the testing station on Monday and again six staff manned the station on Tuesday,” she said.

“These days were public holidays with the testing station originally not planned to be open to give staff a well-earned break.

“After two years of increased and constantly changing demands, their willingness to give up their much-needed time off to support the community is greatly appreciated.”

Goulburn Valley Health’s Respiratory Clinic on Graham St will be open from 8am to 4pm daily. The Shepparton Showgrounds site is open from 8.45am to 4.45pm, closing from January 1 to 3.

The KDHS site will be open on Wednesday, December 29, and Friday, December 31. Follow Kyabram District Health Service on Facebook for updates.