Some Melbourne Covid-19 testing centres have been forced to close after being overrun by holiday-makers and those exposed to the virus as photos emerged of yet another day of long queues at sites in NSW.
Victoria reported 1503 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday from 92,262 test results — the most processed in a 24-hour window since the pandemic began.
The overwhelming demand for testing forced at least 14 testing sites across the city to shut as of 9.45am.
They spanned from the east at Golfers Drive in Chadstone, southeast at Peninsula Health in Frankston and north at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.
In Melbourne, the Bourke Street walk-in remains shut, but the Montague Street drive-through has reopened.
Albert Park's drive-through was also inundated, immediately suspending testing after opening for a third straight day.
It has since reopened to incoming traffic, with an expected wait time of 90 minutes.
Massive queues at NSW Covid testing centres
In Sydney, photos published on Wednesday morning showed massive queues at testing centres across the city.
Lines of cars at St Vincent’s Hospital in Bondi remain consistent and the drive-thru testing facility at Macquarie Park appeared to have no end in sight.
Some people said on social media they waited for up to four hours.
"We're in a car queue in this past hour assuming it is in fact a testing queue. Can't even see where it goes!" one woman tweeted.
"Covid test waiting time here Castle Hill today was 3 hours and 40 minutes," another wrote.
A man said on Facebook residents living near the Tempe Covid testing site had been unable to leave their homes because the traffic is blocking the street.
He advised people to park and walk up to the clinic instead.
Another woman in Victoria said she had to wait five hours in the car with her two young children, but received her results back quickly.
Others posted images of the testing clinic in the Melbourne Showgrounds, saying they were "in and out in five minutes".
NSW Health says Covid results could take 72 hours
Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said it was an exceptionally busy time, with more than a quarter of tests being conducted for people needing a negative result to travel interstate.
"That is part of the pressure that we have to deal with," he told reporters at Sandown Racecourse vaccination centre on Wednesday.
"That is also why we geared up our testing system over the last couple of months. We've added 55 per cent more capacity to our testing system since October.
"Those testing teams will be there on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day and all the way through the holiday period."
NSW Health is warning results could take up to 72 hours as labs are overwhelmed.
The state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard said "tourism testing" was putting testing clinics under extreme pressure and delaying results, and he asked other states to reconsider their testing requirements.
"We don't have to mandate people wearing sunscreen and hats in summer."
Scott Morrison on reimposing mask mandates as NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet resists calls to reintroduce the measure. #9Today pic.twitter.com/KUCzFcULU9
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) December 21, 2021
PM looks into making rapid antigen tests free
Scott Morrison told Channel Nine's The Today Show on Wednesday the government was looking into possible providing free rapid antigen tests.
He also blamed travel restrictions for the lengthy Covid testing site waits.
"One of the big reasons we’ve got those queues in Victoria and NSW is you’ve got people who are required to to get PCR tests before they travel into other states. Now that needs to be looked at," Mr Morrison said.
"Rapid antigen testing in those situations would certainly be a more effective option.'
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