Security has been called in to the ACT's coronavirus testing facility this week after medical professionals were subjected to verbal abuse.
Canberrans at the nurse-led Weston Creek walk-in centre had reportedly sworn and threatened nurses after becoming impatient with long wait times and frustrated at being turned away.
In response, the ACT head of the Australian Medical Association reminded the public medical staff were already overstretched and under pressure, thanking the nurses for their "magnificent work" in light of the pandemic.
Weston Creek walk-in centre manager Kristy Cummin said they had been running between four to eight rooms depending on staffing availability in order to see the "into the hundreds" of people showing up daily to be tested.
"Every single person here has stood up and gone above and beyond despite the unrest in the general community and despite the abuse they've copped," the senior nurse said.
"It's been an amazing effort. The problem is people are unaware of the actual criteria that they need to meet to be tested."
A nurse stationed at the double doors of the clinic was tasked with the difficult job of turning people away who had not travelled overseas, not been in contact with anyone who had tested positive for coronavirus or was not a medical professional.
"We don't really have the resources to test everyone," Ms Cummin said.
"We're trying to save resources for those who meet the criteria."
Ms Cummin said the centre had been lucky to receive support from the Canberra Hospital, with most of her staff working overtime throughout the week.
The Weston Creek walk-in was largely responsible for testing the more than 800 people who had returned negative coronavirus tests as of midday on Saturday, with testing also taking place at hospitals and some private clinics.
Ms Cummin said they had been inundated with people at Weston Creek this week and as a result, the nurses were run off their feet.
"We're trying our hardest to see and do the best we can to get to all those people," she said.
Australian Medical Association ACT branch president Antonio Di Dio has a practice in Yarralumla. His is one of several in Canberra which recently began offering coronavirus testing.
"It is very stressful and very difficult," Dr Di Dio said.
"We know from hearing the experiences of doctors and nurses in Italy who are physically and emotionally exhausted, both from the demands of patients and the fact that so many colleagues are off sick that this will take its toll."
Dr Di Dio said he was beginning to see a similar thing happening in Australia, as medical staff covering for sick colleagues had to double their workload.
He said people directing their anger at frontline workers should be ashamed.
"They, like any frontline workers are going to be unnecessarily exposed to the frustration of customers," Dr Di Dio said.
"I like to think the vast majority of Canberrans will behave with grace and dignity and treat these people with nothing but the utmost respect.
"Unfortunately, a small number of people will behave badly out of fear and frustration."
We're trying our hardest to see and do the best we can to get to all those people.Weston Creek walk-in centre manager Kristy Cummin
Dr Di Dio said testing was not being offered at more practices because clinics were already overwhelmed treating their regular patients.
He said more pop-up testing facilities were on their way as discussions with relevant agencies continued for their most effective location and delivery.
Dr Di Dio said the best thing the public could do right now was to follow the lead of countries which had successfully contained the virus, including China and Japan, and self-isolate.
"The thing that is going to save lives is self-isolation. More needs to be done and more will be done," he said.
Dr Di Dio said some frontline workers had been working up to 18-hour days. He said they had the full support and admiration of the rest of the medical community.
"Stay strong. We are here to support you. We salute you and we thank you for the magnificent work that you're doing," he said.
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