Streets were gridlocked across some Sydney suburbs and NSW hotspots as people queued to be tested for Covid-19 amid fears the virus is rapidly spreading through the community.
NSW reported a big spike in infections on Wednesday, with 1360 new cases announced, the highest number of daily cases since September 11 when the state was still in lockdown. There was also another death from Covid.
The spike in cases across NSW has reportedly seen lengthy queues at 12 city sites as well as the Central Coast, and Newcastle which accounted for about a third of NSW cases.
Some people complained of being turned away after a lengthy wait. The queues for testing followed the 104,501 tests in NSW carried out on Tuesday.
With Christmas only 10 days away busy shoppers were navigating the inner suburbs mask-free in line with an easing of restrictions, while many opted to keep wearing masks.
A staff member at one coronavirus testing clinic, who was concerned about the impact of the changes, told Yahoo News they expected the queues "to only get worse".
"Today is just the first day they've let everyone out," he said.
'Come back later': Sydneysiders told to leave queue
At Bondi Junction, a clinic offering both walk-in and drive-through access had to turn people away on Wednesday morning.
Those queueing on foot were told to head home and come back later to help ease traffic congestion.
“No more walk ins. Please come back later,” a sign at the clinic read.
One desperate woman who had been standing in line to be tested told staff she was considering hiring an Uber for an hour to wait in the car queue instead.
A tired staff member, sweating in the Sydney sun, described the morning as "chaos".
Long Covid test queues at Newcastle and Central Coast
The drive-in clinic at Bondi Beach was also seen with cars bumper to bumper, with queues across four lanes and wait times in excess of 45 minutes at midday.
Closer to the city centre, people were seen queuing around the corner of Albion and Crown streets at Surry Hills awaiting a test.
Long queue at the Covid testing station at Tuggerah due to a case at Westfield over the weekend. Here we go! pic.twitter.com/Qfy8W791RD
— M.\rtyM.\riner (@MartyMariner) December 14, 2021
Haven’t seen a COVID testing line this big in a very long time at the corner of Crown/Albion Surry Hills pic.twitter.com/yDvqkkSRVo
— Ricardo Gonçalves (@BUSINESSricardo) December 14, 2021
Testing delays weren’t just confined to Sydney either.
Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast also had a long line-up just before midday while Newcastle, which has a number of outbreaks linked to nightclubs, is also facing delays at its clinics.
Yesterday more than 80 people tested positive for Covid-19 after attending The Argyle House nightclub in Newcastle.
While results of genomic testing are yet to be finalised, many are expected to test positive to the new Omicron variant.
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