Inside the busy labs of Canberra Hospital's pathology department, a crucial part of the territory's response to the coronavirus global pandemic is taking place.
It's here scientists, pathologists and specimen collection staff are working long hours, seven days a week, to get through 250 COVID-19 tests every day.
During the peak of an exceptionally busy flu season, they would complete that many tests across a whole week.
Then there are the nurses or doctors who collect the samples, and the couriers who bring them to the laboratory.
It's crucial work, and it has to be done precisely. It's no backyard lab job.
As of Friday, when two more positive tests were announced, six people in the ACT had tested positive to the virus, and 2056 had returned a negative result.
Test processing in the ACT began on February 10, with a small number of samples taken to Sydney before that. But it wasn't until the Canberra Day long weekend that testing really started to ramp up.
Director of clinical microbiology, Karina Kennedy, said the in-house testing was done to stringent standards.
"I think there's a perception that it's just sort of like a kit, and you get this test. But it's actually more of a recipe that's been put together and there are many components to it," she said.
"We've done that with as much quality assurances as we can in the short period of time that we've had to develop the assay (test). They are all things that have been developed in house."
When patients' samples arrive at the hospital, they are first entered into the computer system.
They then get processed in the laboratory where the viral material is extracted. The viral DNA is amplified so it's in big enough quantities to be tested - through molecular techniques called polymerase chain reaction or PCR.
While other antibody tests are being developed, Dr Kennedy said the PCR testing would likely remain the mainstay of diagnostic testing.
It takes about 24 to 48 hours for a patient to find our their results. While the testing itself takes about five hours, the slowdowns come from the data entry and specimen processing, especially when there are a lot of tests to get through.
"Once they get on the machines, that's the easy thing," Dr Kennedy said.
The pathology team at Canberra Hospital aren't game to guess when the peak of testing demand will be, but they are not expecting things to be back to normal until at least Christmas.
Testing demand will also change when, and if, there is significant community transmission of the virus in Canberra, when testing and treatment would likely move to focus on the most vulnerable groups.
But they are confident they will be able to quadruple their current testing output should they need to. They're also looking at getting another machine to help conduct the testing.
The World Health Organisation has urged countries to test all suspected cases of the virus.
- How Canberra's restaurants want to feed us
- ACT government to announce $137m coronavirus stimulus package
- Pharmacists urge for calm as medication demand surges
- Police await advice on coronavirus concerns
- Canberra Times' own self-isolater sees best and worst of humanity
- Cafes move away from reusable coffee cups due to coronavirus
- Explainer: What happens if your international flight is cancelled
But a lack of limitless resources means testing in Australia is currently being done on a targeted basis, for people who are deemed most likely to have the virus.
Dr Kennedy said people should follow the Commonwealth advice on who was eligible for testing. "We really need to make sure we're using our resources for the people who need it," she said.
The social and economic fallout from the global pandemic may be unprecedented, but for a microbiologist like Dr Kennedy it's part of what she has trained for and not an unpredictable event.
She said places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and China already had recent experience dealing with viral outbreaks - including SARS and MERS. Australia did not.
"At the end of this we will sit down and we'll learn something, because there will be things that we can say, 'next time we're going to do it a lot better'," she said.
Pathology staff are working hard and doing plenty of overtime. But Canberra Health Services says it is also recruiting people with the relevant expertise to help out, including former ACT Health staff.
"I think the staff understand the importance of what they're doing," Dr Kennedy said.
"But I do worry that it is quite stressful, both in the hours and in the responsibility. There's also the general stress around the community - we're trying to get toilet paper and meat and things like that.
"They've got the same stresses that everyone else has.
"It's not going to be a sprint it's going to be a marathon."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you're looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.