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Canberra Today 15°/19° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Clinic call out to ease the COVID-19 test queues

Kambah drive-through site earlier this year.

RESPIRATORY clinics could lessen the wait times of queues for Canberrans lining up to take an urgent COVID-19 test.

Numbers have reached their pandemic peak over recent days after Sydney holidaymakers were found to be visiting Canberra following the news that viral clusters were growing and more exposure sites were found in Australia’s largest city.

Reports are that people are waiting up to four hours to get tested, compelling authorities to look at negotiating with the federal government to utilise respiratory clinics in Canberra to ease congestion and frustration.

But the ACT government has ruled out opening the Kambah COVID-19 testing site again.

The drive-through temporary site, near Tuggeranong, was shut down after being found to be the least visited of the six clinics throughout the Canberra region.

A government spokesperson said Kambah was just an outside clinic that would have proven to be unsuitable in the winter period.

The site was operational from the end of July last year – amid the territory’s coldest point of the year – before being shut down in the middle of May this year.

“Moving into this time of year, we would have been closing it often in response to weather. That is one of the key reasons we won’t reopen the site,” the spokesperson said.

The staff, who worked at the Kambah testing clinic, were redeployed to other ACT testing sites or to other government mass vaccination clinics.

But the same site staff numbers that are feeling the pinch would not be affected should the Commonwealth intervene to facilitate its respiratory clinics.

ACT Health, in the meantime, will roll out its contingency plan to ease part of the burden.

“To manage an increase in demand over the past few days, Canberra Health Services has added additional staff to the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre testing clinic and extended its hours,” the spokesperson said.

“There are no immediate plans to open an ACT government testing clinic in Tuggeranong at this time.

“We are in contact with the Commonwealth government to discuss the capacity of their Commonwealth-led respiratory clinics in the ACT, including one in Greenway.”

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Andrew Mathieson

Andrew Mathieson

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