South Australia has called in the troops for help after locals queued through the night and faced up to eight hour waits at overwhelmed testing centres in Adelaide – as the state records six new cases.
One man told ABC Radio Adelaide he joined the line at the Victoria Park testing station at 10.45pm on Tuesday night, but was still waiting at 6.30am on Wednesday.
The test site at Modbury in Adelaide’s north-east – which was at the centre of a scare earlier in the week – saw 2km long tailbacks on Wednesday as cars queued for tests.
On Monday night, wait times exceeded 10 hours and people slept in their cars.
To meet the demand, the state government set up an invitation-only testing centre that’s closed off to the general public to fast track specific tests for the SA’s Communicable Diseases Control Branch.
Premier Steven Marshall encouraged residents to attend other clinics rather than just the one at Victoria Park, and urged them to get vaccinated.
‘That’s our pathway out,’ he said.
Interstate nurses and GPs are set to assist with testing sites due to the insatiable demand, while SA Health works on publishing live wait times for testing centres across the state.
Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said reducing wait times was her top priority for Wednesday.
‘I’ve spoken to her (Australian Defence Force staff) about trying to get some personnel in from other states to help us with the swabbing,’ she said.
‘They did this with Victoria, it was very effective, and they’re going to start mobilising that today.’
Nurses trained to give Covid-19 tests will be pulled from hospitals and places in testing centres.
Dr Tom Dodd from SA Pathology, thanked people for their patience and said additional resources are being moved to testing clinics.
‘It’s inevitable whenever there is a case identified there will be a huge increase in testing … so inevitably there will be a queue in testing,’ he said.
‘I know there was long queues … and all I can do is thank people for being very patient.’
Australian Medical Association SA president Dr Michelle Atchison called on the government to set up more 24-hour clinics.
‘Long waits add to people’s stress and anxiety and it will mean people will just drive on,’ he said.
South Australia now has four active cases and is under level four restrictions, which ban non-essential retail, indoor dining, gyms and personal care services.