Frustration and disappointment at huge Covid testing queues in Melbourne

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·4-min read

Victorians responding to calls from authorities to be tested for coronavirus have been left frustrated over long queues and being turned away despite waiting hours in line.

Some queued early Sunday morning and waited for testing clinics to open but were turned away when capacity was reached, which at some sites reportedly occurred just 15 minutes after opening.

Many returned travellers from NSW and those who recently visited the 51 potential exposure sites across the state waited in queues for a second day in a row, but some still left without being tested.

Annoyed residents took to social media with complaints, expressing frustration at the state’s apparent ill preparation for accomodating the level of testing required.

This was the scene from the Melbourne Sports Centre testing site that closed minutes after opening due to reaching capacity. Source: Twitter/TathamOddie
This was the scene from the Melbourne Sports Centre testing site that closed minutes after opening due to reaching capacity. Source: Twitter/TathamOddie

One man described his experience as “totally ridiculous” after arriving for a second attempt to be tested at the Melbourne Sports Centre at 7am Sunday, only for it to close just 20 minutes after its 8am opening, he said.

Others recalled having a similar experience, with one saying they sought testing after visiting an exposure site but were turned away after waiting for an hour.

One Victorian mother shared updates during her six-hour wait to be tested in Darebin, joking about the line “torturing” her by its close proximity to the local McDonald’s.

Someone else waiting in a queue at West Footscray said she returned on Sunday due to a three-hour backlog on Saturday, only for the clinic to reach capacity shortly after opening.

“Longer opening hours are desperately needed,” she wrote in a tweet.

The West Footscray testing site queue was almost full nine minutes before it opened on Sunday. Source: Twitter/tiz2511
The West Footscray testing site queue was almost full nine minutes before it opened on Sunday. Source: Twitter/tiz2511

Another woman said she was told on Saturday to arrive at the Ringwood East testing centre before 7am on Sunday, but when she got there the queue was hours-long already.

“Why not open earlier? I don’t mind waiting but if we are asking everyone to be tested the hours must be extended,” she wrote to Twitter.

A woman in Prahran said she booked an appointment to get tested three days ago but still arrived to be told she would need to wait at least two hours in a queue.

“This is my fourth attempt in the past three days (got turned away three times),” she said on Twitter.

Someone else who was turned away from the Chadstone testing site after waiting two hours on Saturday returned to try again on Sunday, arriving an hour before opening.

Victoria testing chief Jeroen Weimar addressed the huge wait times Sunday morning, claiming testing levels “have more than doubled what we've been doing for the last two months”.

“I would love to be in a position where we have shorter waiting times but we are seeing a very strong and intense response both from people returning from New South Wales as well as people who are responding to the calls around exposure sites and the concerns that we've got,” Mr Weimar told reporters.

“I apologise for the frustration people feel, I apologise for the length of waiting times, but people are getting through testing, turnaround times are happening and we are seeing it in the way this outbreak is being handled.

“I can absolutely confirm that any primary close contact is prioritised in terms of testing and any close contact, in the extensive conversations we have with them, has many options in terms of how the testing is delivered.”

Victoria processed 22,477 tests in 24 hours to produce just three positive results on Sunday.

Queensland residents have also battled long queues for a second day, with people turned away Saturday at 9pm when clinics closed despite waiting for hours in queues.

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