Virus spread fears as test wait times blow out



Doctors are fearful that the waiting time for COVID-19 test results has blown out from 24 hours to 72 hours in some Queensland areas heightening the risk of people not properly isolating while waiting for the findings.

"Pathology units, both private and public, in the metro area have been hit with a 10-fold increase in demand and are working hard to reduce the wait times but one of the biggest problems in keeping this virus contained is making sure people do the right thing and isolate until they know they are negative," Dr Bruce Willett, Queensland Chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said.

"I believe in Victoria more than half of those awaiting test results did not obey the COVID quarantine directives, so let that be a lesson. Queenslanders must do better."

The doctor's concern comes after it was revealed that Queenslanders were ducking to a coffee shop immediately after testing at a Southside testing centre instead of going straight into isolation.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that 53 per cent of people who were tested in a three-week period in July did not isolate until they received their test results.



They continued working and going to shops and restaurants.

While the state's laboratories work to keep up with almost 10,000 tests a day some are growing weary.

Logan mum Milla Gill was tested on Thursday at Parklands Christian College and received her negative test result on Sunday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Mrs Gill was still in self-isolation at home awaiting the results of her two daughters, because Queensland Health does not allow the results of persons under 16 to be given over-the-phone.

"I called over the weekend and there were able to give me my test results which was great, but because I've got the two girls and they are under 16 I have to book them into the doctors," Mrs Gill told the Courier-Mail on Tuesday.

"The girls developed a bit of a cough so I got them tested to be cautious; to make sure they are okay, get them better so they could go back to school, but it's been difficult to get it (the results) back.

"It's been a nightmare, when I called the doctors this morning they said that they are only just getting Thursday's results back, it's been really slow.

"We're home at the house until then; I'm hoping I can get them back to school soon … the girls are well and truly ready to go back to school."



Dr Willett advised anyone who was feeling sick to make a teleconference appointment with their doctor rather than going out.

"The doctor will assess their symptoms over the phone and if they feel they need a test will refer them to a private pathology clinic which can be bulk billed. This will take pressure off the respiratory clinics," he said.

"GP clinics have been busy but they have more capacity than many of the clinics," he said.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young on Monday admitted the turnaround time to get results had increased and said Queensland Health had allocated additional resources to shrink wait times.

"We're seeing up to 31, and then more recently 38 hours, so rather than the 17 hours we were seeing," Dr Young said.

"It has extended out, which is why I thanked people earlier for their patience because they do need to stay at home until they get that negative result."

Dr Young said the backlog was due to testing capacity in the state's laboratories.

"The pressure is on that Logan, South Brisbane area, not in the rest of the state to the same extent," she said.

Meanwhile, wait times to be tested for COVID-19 have plummeted to 30 minutes, despite 60,000 tests since July 29.

The penalty for breaking Queensland's public health orders is a $4003 fine. There were 2168 fines handed out between March 27 to July 27. But new laws mean that anyone caught doing the wrong thing could be jailed for up to six months.



Originally published as Virus spread fears as test wait times blow out