Five new Qld cases as huge waits prompt testing changes
Queensland Health has been forced to open more fever clinics, put on more staff and extend testing hours amid growing fears that people who should be getting tested are being deterred by up to six-hour waits and kilometre-long queues.
It comes as Queensland has recorded five new cases of coronavirus overnight.
All cases were acquired overseas and detected in hotel quarantine.
Queensland now has 17 active cases of COVID-19.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted early on Monday that almost 6300 tests were conducted in Queensland in the past 24 hours.
Frustrated returning Queenslanders and Victorian travellers left testing queues on Sunday as wait times ballooned at southeast Queensland testing centres following advice urging anyone who had been in Victoria since December 21 to get tested.
Victoria has today reported four new cases of coronavirus, one of them in hotel quarantine.
People faced up to five-hour waits in the hot sun outside the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and more than three hours in stationary cars around Sullivan Nicolaides in Bowen Hills and Murrarie.
One person, who had been queuing at Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside for six hours, said the clinic would be running 24 hours to get through the backlog, according to nurses on site.
In Mackay, people queued for more than three hours for COVID tests, while those on the Sunshine Coast were left on hold or had to call multiple times to register for testing, with no clinics in the region that do not require registration or a GP referral open on Sundays.
People in Cairns and Townsville faced similar lengthy delays.
A Victorian woman, who is visiting family in Queensland, said she waited over three hours at Murrarie before she "gave up and left".
"There were still 100 people in front of us," she said.
"We phoned Queensland Health and it's only a recommendation at this stage so it's not required so we're going to wait until it's mandated.
"Queenslanders are trying to do the right thing; there's just not enough resources to help them."
Teneriffe locals Anna Walch and Thomas Juzwin said they "barely moved" after two hours in line for the Bowen Hills testing clinic, while several other cars were seen pulling out of the line.
But Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said yesterday more clinics would be opened with more staff and extended hours to meet current demand.
Dr Young said the RBWH had worked with people who couldn't be tested yesterday and had "sorted for them to be tested this morning".
Queensland Health is working with Victorian health authorities to identify anyone who has been in close or casual contact with known cases and ensure they are tested.
"We've asked for manifests of all the flights from Victoria and we'll be texting people (to tell them to get tested)," Dr Young said.
She said there was no need to extend any border restrictions to Melbourne or Victoria "at this stage".
"But we're keeping a very close eye on that," Dr Young said.
Aged care facilities, disability accommodation facilities, prisons and hospitals have been instructed not to allow visits from anyone who has been in Victoria since December 21.
"Just so that we can keep our most vulnerable people safe," Dr Young said.
Opposition health spokesman Ros Bates yesterday slammed the state government for "putting the fear in Queenslanders" by urging them to get tested just hours before clinics closed on Saturday.
Ms Bates said the GP-referral requirement at some clinics added unnecessary steps to the testing process and needed to be relaxed.
"Labor need to make sure that if they're going to make these public health announcements that they provide the facilities," she said.
"We can't afford one person who may have COVID-19 turned away."
Queensland Health had yesterday changed the status of a number of clinics previously listed as referral only to no referral necessary, including Ferny Hills, Everton Park and Everton Hills.
There were no new cases of COVID-19 in Queensland yesterday.
Despite ballooning queues on Saturday night, only 2742 tests were conducted compared to 3360 the day before and 5105 on New Year's Day.
To see where to get tested for COVID-19 visit qld.gov.au
Originally published as Five new Qld cases as huge waits prompt testing changes