Thousand swamp coronavirus testing clinics after Wollongong alerts

Thousands of Wollongong residents raced to get a Covid-19 test on Tuesday afternoon minutes after news broke that the virus had spread south from Sydney.

Huge lines stretched around an entire block at the Wollongong Hospital with many waiting up to five hours just to get a test.

Some residents shared online that after spending hours standing in the pouring rain, they were turned away at the last minute due to a lack of staff and testing kits. 

The massive turnout came after NSW Health issued five new Covid alerts for venues in Wollongong, including two churches, two shopping centres and an optometrist.

Thousands of Wollongong residents raced to get a COVID-19 test on Tuesday afternoon after news broke that the virus had spread south from Sydney

Thousands of Wollongong residents raced to get a COVID-19 test on Tuesday afternoon after news broke that the virus had spread south from Sydney

Huge lines stretched around an entire block at the Wollongong Hospital with many waiting up to five hours just to get a test

Huge lines stretched around an entire block at the Wollongong Hospital with many waiting up to five hours just to get a test

Some people even said they were turned away from the Wollongong Hospital at the last minute due to a lack of staff and testing kits

Some people even said they were turned away from the Wollongong Hospital at the last minute due to a lack of staff and testing kits

Photos taken of the hospital on Tuesday show an endless stream of masked locals anxiously waiting to receive a test.

Standing socially distanced, the line wrapped around several streets near the hospital as residents braced for a long wait.

‘After 2.5 hours in the rain and cold waiting to get a Covid test and getting sent away due to lack of staff,’ one woman tweeted.  

‘Did the right thing and went to the Wollongong Hospital only to be sent home to isolate and come back tomorrow. The queue had 100s of people, very busy,’ another said.

‘Everyone in that line (thousands of people) would have patiently waited, in the rain (and it was cold) all night to get tested – HOW can they have not planned for this?’ wrote a third.  

The five venues listed were visited by one of three mystery cases that were detected late on Monday night, including one person from Wollongong.

Anyone who visited the sites at the specific times have been urged to get tested and isolate immediately until given further instructions. 

A huge queue of people is seen near the Wollongong Hospital on Tuesday afternoon over fears the virus has spread in the city

A huge queue of people is seen near the Wollongong Hospital on Tuesday afternoon over fears the virus has spread in the city

The coronavirus outbreak in Sydney has spread south to Wollongong with churches, shopping centres and an optometrist all on high alert (pictured people line up for testing in Wollongong)

The coronavirus outbreak in Sydney has spread south to Wollongong with churches, shopping centres and an optometrist all on high alert (pictured people line up for testing in Wollongong)

People have been urged to get tested and isolate if they visited the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday December 27 from 10.30am-11am in Wollongong

People have been urged to get tested and isolate if they visited the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday December 27 from 10.30am-11am in Wollongong

Wollongong Central shopping centre on Crown Street has also been put on alert for any visitors on Wednesday December 23 from 3.30pm to 4pm. The infected person visited Coles, JB hi-fi, City Beach, Hero Sushi and Strandbags while at the centre

Wollongong Central shopping centre on Crown Street has also been put on alert for any visitors on Wednesday December 23 from 3.30pm to 4pm. The infected person visited Coles, JB hi-fi, City Beach, Hero Sushi and Strandbags while at the centre

A mystery case is believed to have visited five venues in Wollongong sparking a mad rush to get tested

A mystery case is believed to have visited five venues in Wollongong sparking a mad rush to get tested

These include the St Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday December 27 from 9am to 10.15am as well as the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday December 27 from 10.30am to 11am.

The same directions apply to anybody who visited the Figtree Grove Shopping Centre on Monday December 21 from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, on Wednesday December 23 from 8.45am to 9am, and on Thursday December 24 from 6.45am to 9.30am.

Patients who attended the Proust Optical Shop at the Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, on Monday December 21 from 9.30am to 5pm, and Wednesday December 23 from 9.30am to 2pm must also get tested immediately.   

Wollongong Central shopping centre on Crown Street has also been put on alert for any visitors on Wednesday December 23 from 3.30pm to 4pm.  

The infected person visited Coles, JB hi-fi, City Beach, Hero Sushi and Strandbags while at the centre.  

After news broke of the potentially infected venues, hundreds of Wollongong residents flocked to get tested, with queues forming down the street in a matter of hours

Long lines are seen at the Wollongong Hospital on Tuesday as residents race to get tested

Long lines are seen at the Wollongong Hospital on Tuesday as residents race to get tested 

The St Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Wollongong has also been put on high alert

The St Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Wollongong has also been put on high alert

Thousands raced to get a test after an infected person visited various venues in the city over the past week

Thousands raced to get a test after an infected person visited various venues in the city over the past week

Everyone in the queue managed to socially distance and wear a mask while waiting for their Covid test

Everyone in the queue managed to socially distance and wear a mask while waiting for their Covid test

Meanwhile in Sydney, the Pittwater Place shopping mall in Mona Vale have also been added to the list for those present on Wednesday December 23 from 3.30pm-4pm.

Three mystery cases were recorded in NSW, including one person from Wollongong, one from inner-west Sydney and another from the Northern Beaches.  

They were recorded after the 8pm cut off meaning they will be included in Wednesday’s figures amid fears the virus is secretly spreading around the state.

Earlier on Tuesday, NSW recorded three new local cases, all linked to the hotspot suburb of Avalon, taking the cluster to 129 patients. A further six returned travellers in hotel quarantine tested positive.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged Greater Sydney residents to get tested after 16,000 people got swabbed on Tuesday, down from 70,000 on Thursday.  

She said ‘Greater Sydney must be on high alert’ until the source of the three new mystery cases is found. 

On Monday Premier Berejiklian tightened restrictions for gatherings across Sydney as the state recorded five new cases.  

Wollongong residents are seen waiting outside a testing clinic after five venues were put on high alert

Wollongong residents are seen waiting outside a testing clinic after five venues were put on high alert

She said officials still don’t know how the outbreak began, meaning the northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain locked down until January 9 to stop the disease spreading – but residents will be allowed five visitors from the zone on New Year’s Eve.

The southern zone will be released from lockdown on January 2 – but residents are allowed 10 visitors from the zone on December 31.

Amid fears New Year’s Eve could become a super-spreader event, restrictions will tighten in Greater Sydney from Monday night with public gatherings limited to 50 people, down from 100. Home gatherings remain limited to 10 visitors.   

More than a dozen people from the Northern Beaches were fined $1,000 after escaping the coronavirus lockdown zone to attend a wedding in Sydney’s CBD.

Guests at a wedding in Pyrmont on Sunday. Police officers crashed the event at 5pm

Guests at a wedding in Pyrmont on Sunday. Police officers crashed the event at 5pm

Police crashed the nuptials at Dalton House in Pyrmont at 5pm on Sunday after receiving a tip-off.

Residents from the Northern Beaches are banned from leaving the area since the Covid-19 outbreak on December 16. 

Guests who have been fined $1,000 each include a man and woman, both aged 43, from Allambie Heights, a 33-year-old woman from Narraweena, and a 27-year-old man from Frenchs Forest.

Three women, 19, 22 and 28, and two men, 23 and 63, from Beacon Hill were also slapped with the hefty penalty.

An additional three people, including a 34-year-old man, a 36-year-old woman, both from Frenchs Forest, and a 26-year-old man from Beacon Hill will also be fined for attending the wedding.  

What are the restrictions for New Year’s Eve in Sydney? 

For New Year’s Eve Celebrations:

• The CBD frontline worker fireworks vantage point offering is cancelled. Frontline workers will be offered another opportunity in 2021.

• Hospitality venues will remain open but must adhere to the one person per four square metres rule.

• Council events may continue but they must be controlled and seated with no mingling, and record keeping requirements must be strictly adhered to.

• A short, seven minute fireworks display will continue at midnight. 

Unless you have a New Year’s Eve Pass through Service NSW, you will not be able to enter designated zones around Circular Quay, North Sydney and the City.

From midnight Monday 28 December: 

For the Northern Beaches peninsula zone (North of Narrabeen Bridge, and east of the Baha’i Temple), the following rules apply until January 9:

· The health situation remains volatile and the current restrictions will remain in place to supress community transmission.

· However, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allowed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will be restricted to five visitors in total from within your zone (and includes at homes).

· Current arrangements allowing five people to gather outdoors (not at homes) for exercise and recreation, from within the same zone, continues.

· No restaurants, cafes, pubs or clubs (except for takeaway) will be permitted to open, including for New Year’s Eve.

For the remainder (southern zone) of the Northern Beaches, the following rules apply until January 2:

· The health situation remains volatile and the current restrictions will remain in place to supress community transmission.

· However, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allowed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will be restricted to 10 visitors in total from within your zone (and includes at homes).

· Current arrangements allowing 10 people to gather outdoors (not at homes) for exercise and recreation, from within the same zone, continues.

· No restaurants, cafes, pubs or clubs (except for takeaway) will be permitted to open, including for New Year’s Eve.

For Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong the following rules apply:

• Gatherings in the home remain at 10 visitors in total (including children).

• Outside gatherings (such as picnics) will be restricted to 50 people in total (down from 100).

For regional NSW there is no change to current arrangements. 

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