Delays as hundreds queue for Gladstone COVID tests
Hundreds of Gladstone region residents every hour are getting drive-through COVID tests as the port city faces the real possibility the highly-contagious UK strain could be spreading among the community.
When the news that a COVID positive man had been in the region went viral on Monday, March 29, the health service testing hotline (4920 5800) went into meltdown.
Concerned locals bombarded the number all day, desperate to book in and get tested after visiting one or more of the seven locations the man frequented.
In response, extra COVID testing locations were set up, with queues of anxious motorists waiting up to two hours to get “swabbed”.
If you visited a “hot spot” the man attended and go to get tested, you must have your Medicare card and provide your name, address, date of birth, mobile phone number and the location you visited.
What follows is a 10-second procedure where a health worker swipes the back of your throat with an extra-long, cotton-tipped swab, before the unpleasant part – when it is inserted deep into your nostril.
While the paperwork takes longer than the test, the feeling of the swab up your nose can remain for more than half-an-hour.
After only experiencing one case of the virus, a Calliope woman in April 2020 who has recovered, since the global pandemic was declared, the pandemonium previously only seen on TV is now real for the region.
The COVID alert was sparked by the “return home” of a Gladstone man from Brisbane, who said he was “shocked” when his boss called on Saturday, March 26, and revealed a workmate had tested positive.
COVID testing is being conducted by the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service CQHHS, plus at selected pathology clinics.
A CQHHS spokeswoman said the service apologised for the delays in testing and establishing a more efficient testing clinic at the Blain Drive sporting complex, Gladstone, from 6.30am to 6pm on Tuesday, March 30.
The spokeswoman said everyone was encouraged to book on 4920 5800 and the Gladstone Hospital COVID-19 testing clinic had been closed for redeployment of staff to the new clinic.
“We apologise to the Gladstone community for the delay in opening of the new COVID-19 testing clinic at the Blain Drive sporting complex,” the spokeswoman said.
“The delay was caused by IT issues.
“Those issues are being progressively rectified, and testing is well under way.
“The hotline (4920 5800) is at capacity with 10 inward lines open.
“Additional staff have been allocated from outpatient department and other departments across Central Queensland, but the average wait time today is 40 minutes.”
“As more technology solutions are delivered this morning, and the traffic flow improves at the drive-through clinic, the line will be split into three access lanes – two for those with bookings and one for those without a booking.”
“All bookings that had been made for Gladstone Hospital yesterday have been transferred to the Blain Drive sporting complex.”
The spokeswoman said Biloela Hospital also had a testing clinic which required a booking.
All COVID test results are anticipated, the spokeswoman said, in less than 24 hours.
Anyone who was in Greater Brisbane on, or since Saturday, March 20, but has since left must follow the same lockdown rules as for Greater Brisbane.