Overwhelmed drive-through testing sites shut to new arrivals

Ian Bushnell 13 August 2021 5

The line of traffic on the approach to Canberra Airport, where the Brindabella Business park testing site is operating. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The drive-though COVID-19 testing centres at Brindabella Business Park and EPIC have been forced to close to new arrivals after being swamped by people wanting to get tested.

They were expected to stay open until late tonight to clear long lines of vehicles, but Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has announced on FM radio that the sites were now at capacity getting through the existing lines and would close to new arrivals.

People have been waiting from four to six hours or more to be tested.

Queue at EPIC

Queue at EPIC.

ACT Health has been surging and redeploying staff to meet the intense demand for testing but the need to establish a pop-up COVID-19 testing site at the Gold Creek School for hundreds of close and casual contacts will only put extra strain on ACT Health’s already struggling resources.

A 14-year-old student has tested positive, plunging the multi-campus Gold Creek and Holy Spirit Primary School communities into lockdown and requiring testing.

Construction workers at the Gold Creek School have also been caught up in the crisis.

ACT Health will have to divert precious resources to Gold Creek as it grapples with record testing demand at the drive-through sites at EPIC, Brindabella Business Park, and Weston Creek Walk-in Centre.


READ MORE: Help for businesses hit by lockdown measures


Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT would continue to ramp up testing, but it was important that only people who needed to get tested fronted up at the testing sites.

These were people with symptoms and people identified as close contacts by ACT Health.

More testing sites were being planned but Ms Stephen-Smith could not say when these would come online but may include a centre on the southside.

Her spokesperson said the current sites would open for extended hours but would not move to a 24-hour operation.

Queue at Brindabella Business Park

The queue for testing at Brindabella Business Park.

EPIC was open until midnight last night but still had to turn people away.

Ms Stephen-Smith said State Emergency Service volunteers and Emergency Services Agency staff had been deployed to offer support to queuing vehicles, such as water.

She said extra staff had been drafted from across the Directorate into front line service to help with the demand. She defended the testing effort and pleaded with people to be patient.

“No jurisdiction in the first couple of days of an outbreak has been able to surge to meet the entire demand for testing,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“It is unrealistic when we have thousands and thousands of people wanting to get tested on the same day that we are necessarily going to be able to move everyone in the blink of an eye to do that.”

Brindabella tested more than 300 people yesterday, and EPIC tested 880. Overall, more than 2,000 people were tested.

Ms Stephen-Smith said Capital Pathology sites across Canberra were also conducting tests.


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5 Responses to Overwhelmed drive-through testing sites shut to new arrivals
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Oiledpengu Oiledpengu 9:53 am 14 Aug 21

What kind of person goes for testing without being a contact or being at an exposure site during stated hours or not having symptoms? A fool would be my guess

CarloL CarloL 10:47 pm 13 Aug 21

Went to EPIC Yesterday evening, when i started feeling sick, but they’re no longer accepting. I came in this morning and arrived at 8:30am and waited 12hrs only to get sent home, even though i explained that i’m sick, i live in Gungahlin and have covid like symptoms.

tim martin tim martin 9:42 pm 13 Aug 21

They were not just shut to new arrivals. After sitting in a car for 11 hours today with no information, a friend was sent home. Luckily the act government have been preparing for this eventuality as they keep advertising.

Rob Sav Rob Sav 8:08 pm 13 Aug 21

Epic wait time today 13th was 12hrs, arrived around 830am still waiting 810pm. Definitly try an alternate or bring lots of supplies.

Whitepointer Whitepointer 5:36 pm 13 Aug 21

I think the ACT Gov jumped the gun by closing the Kambah dirve they Covid19 testing site…..
Another fantastic decision by the almighty wise one’s!

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