A major pathology lab has temporarily shut 28 Covid-19 testing sites across New South Wales as it tries to keep up with demand.
Australian Clinical Labs shut down drive-through and walk-in clinics on Monday, but would progressively reopen them on Tuesday as it cleared through a backlog of swabs.
‘These closures have been necessary due to the significant increase in testing volumes across the state,’ the company said.
Drive-through sites that are shut include: Clarendon Hawkesbury Showground, Dural, Emerald Hills (Leppington), Granville (Parramatta Rd), Hornsby Overflow Car Park, Hunters Hill, Kingswood, Liverpool, Marsden Park, Minto, Parklea, Penrith, Sydney Olympic Park, Warriewood, Windsor and Winmalee.
Walk-in clinics that are shut include: Ashfield, Blacktown, Campsie, Fairfield, Frenchs Forest, Harris Park, Manly, Narrabri and Windale.
More than 20 testing clinics have been shut across NSW as demand for PCR tests remains high (pictured: a Sydney testing clinic in November)
The huge hours-long line outside a Sydney testing clinic on December 28 (pictured)
The sites at Castle Hill, Parramatta and Charlestown would likely reopen Tuesday but the remaining sites will be closed indefinitely as employees clear current workloads.
‘Clinical Labs temporarily closed some testing sites in NSW,’ the company said on its website on Monday evening.
‘These closures have been necessary due to the significant increase in testing volumes across the state.
‘Many of these sites will progressively reopen from Tuesday 4th January.’
Despite a loosening of rules around test requirements in NSW, testing clinics have remained swamped with long lines for more than two weeks.
NSW reported 20,794 new Covid cases on Monday as hospitalisation numbers near the figures reached during the height of the Delta outbreak in September.
Australians forced to wait in line for hours at Covid testing clinics as infection rates spiral to new record highs are taking desperate measures to cut the queue, like sleeping in their cars. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in Wyndham Vale, Melbourne
There were 1204 people in the state’s hospitals with COVID-19 on Monday, just 62 cases shy of the record set on September 21 when NSW was in the grips of Delta.
Monday’s figure marked a rise by 165 on the previous day’s figure.
Amid dramatically escalating case numbers attributed to the Omicron variant, Premier Dominic Perrottet has been urging residents to turn their attention from the caseload to hospital numbers.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Monday said authorities would be looking at ‘the whole picture’, including hospitalisation figures, intensive care admissions, the positivity rate and case numbers.
Some people have even been sleeping in their cars the night before just to avoid the hours-long wait to get a PCR test. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in North Ryde, Sydney
The increasing hospitalisation numbers may mask the true picture of the severity of the virus, with a small NSW Health study finding that some patients counted in the COVID-19 numbers were actually admitted to hospital for completely different reasons, like childbirth.
NSW Health says that with the spread of COVID-19 in the community, it’s unsurprising that patients admitted for other injuries and illnesses will be found to have COVID-19 too.
While ICU numbers are rising – 25 at the latest count – they are well short of the peak of 244 in September.
Many clinics in NSW and Victoria have been forced to turn people away by the thousands as early as 9am, as banks of cars at drive-thru clinics queue kilometres. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in Melbourne