Thousands of Australians desperate to do the right thing are being turned away from, or facing queues of up to six hours at COVID-19 testing clinics across the country.
Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast centres are all reporting massive wait times on Sunday, after desperate pleas from Victorian and Queensland authorities.
Meanwhile, New South Wales Health is urging more people to get tested, after the state recorded eight new cases on Sunday morning out of 18,923 tests.
Despite the long queue times, Queensland continued its run of zero COVID-19 cases on Sunday.
On Saturday, Queensland’s chief health officer said anyone in Queensland who had entered the state from Victoria since December 21 to immediately get tested and isolate until they received a negative result.
It prompted hundreds to flock to Brisbane’s only late-night testing clinic, the Royal Brisbane Hospital, only to be told they could not be tested as the centre was closing at 9pm.
Thousands of Queenslanders have spent Sunday morning standing or sitting in queues, some as long as six hours.
ABC Breakfast host Lisa Millar tweeted from a Gold Coast clinic that she had moved “about 100 metres since she joined the queue two hours ago.”
“People arriving now are being told they may not get tested before end of the day now,” she wrote at 12.20pm AEST.
Shadow Minister for Health, Ros Bates said the state could not afford to have one person “who may have COVID-19 turned away.”
“As a registered nurse, I know the immense pressure our hard working hospital staff are under,” she said.
“Our police officers are patrolling our border 24/7, yet testing clinics are closing at 9pm? It doesn’t make sense.”
In Victoria, authorities are urging people to be patient as they too experience massive wait times, with some clinics being forced to close their doors due to reaching capacity.
Despite that, the state recorded 22,477 tests in the 24 hours to Sunday morning with just three positive cases, all linked to the Black Rock cluster.
Acting premier Jacinta Allan said delays at the state’s 190 testing clinics were in part due to many healthcare workers still being on leave.
“I do want to acknowledge the hardworking healthcare staff over the course of 2020 … they have worked so hard to protect and support the Victorian community. Over this holiday period we have seen a number of them take some well earned time off,” Ms Allan said.
“I really want to thank those staff who have returned early from their breaks to provide extra assistance with the testing sites across the state.”
COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said more testing sites would be opened over coming days.
“Every test is important in this environment and I thank everybody who is making such a heroic effort,” he said.
All 13 Department of Health and Human Services drive-through clinics will be open until 8pm for the foreseeable future.
The Melbourne Showgrounds testing centre will also remain open until 7pm.