‘Until further notice’: Testing clinics close

As NSW daily infections reached 21,151 on Friday, Royal North Shore Hospital’s testing clinic remains closed, along with two other sites in the eastern suburbs.“We are very sorry that our Covid-19 testing clinic is temporarily closed from today until further notice,” the hospital posted on its Facebook page on Thursday night.“This decision was made to ease pressure on pathology labs and allow them to clear a backlog of swabs.”The post said that Northern Sydney Local Health District had been collecting 6000 swabs a day across clinics and hospital operations since the start of the holiday period.This figure was up from 1000 a day in the weeks earlier.“Healthcare workers from the district remain a priority and will continue to be able to be swabbed at all clinics upon presentation of their staff ID,” the statement said.“We apologise for the inconvenience and thank the community for their understanding.”The Northern Sydney Health District has also made the decision reduce opening hours at testing clinics at Ryde Hospital, Hornsby Hospital, Mona Vale Hospital and Brookvale Community Health Centre on Friday and Saturday to ease pressure.Meanwhile, a privately-run clinic at Willoughby Leisure Centre’s Covid testing facility had to temporarily shut after it ran out of tests.Willoughby City Councillor Nic Wright told NCA NewsWire the clinic, run by Laverty Pathology, had reopened on Friday but he had been advised that it was forced to shut for a period of time because it had run out of supplies.“The demand is out of control, there’s people looking for tests everywhere, any clinic that takes bookings is booked out in minutes,” he said.“This was entirely predictable, we knew the case numbers were going to be this high, we’re in this situation where we can’t keep up with demand, people are obviously anxious and scare about what’s going on.”St Vincent’s Hospital has also announced its East Sydney Arts Centre and Rushcutters Bay clinics would both close “until further notice”.The hospital said its the Bondi Beach drive-through clinic would only operate from 8.30am to 12pm until Tuesday next week.It comes as Victoria’s health department also put out a warning on Thursday saying some testing clinics might need to close over the next three days due to “excessive heat”.“Particularly those located outdoors in tents,” the statement said.“Temperature inside the tents can rise even 10C higher, and testing staff work in full PPE.”The challenges come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that people should only go to testing clinics if they are close contacts or have symptoms.The definition of a close contact has been narrowed in most states to people who’ve spent at least four hours with a confirmed case in a household or household-like setting, such as an aged care facility.“Now what this does is significantly change those who need to be going and getting in queues. “If you don’t fulfil this definition of a close contact, then there is no need for you to be in that line.”

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