ACT health staff have been redeployed from office roles to assist on the front line as COVID-19 testing times blow out due to huge demand.
Some people looking to be tested were turned away from testing sites on Friday afternoon and asked to return on the weekend, while others waited more than nine hours to get a swab.
The ACT's average daily testing number of 1000 people had been reached by 1pm across the three main sites, with the total expected to creep towards 3000 by the end of the day.
"If I didn't shut the queues we would be there [until] well and truly the wee hours of the morning," Canberra Health Services chief operating officer Cathie O'Neill said.
Staff are being redirected from other parts of the health system, including those working on the digital health record, in administrative positions and "back office" roles.
Ms O'Neill said an extra 30 nurses would start next week, while planning continued for an additional testing site.
She said swabbing had to be done by registered nurses, but other support roles could be performed by other staff.
A drive-through clinic at Brindabella Business Park was quickly established on Thursday. It had been in the works for some time due to sustained high testing levels.
Ms O'Neill said sites could be set up in 24 hours when needed.
"We are looking at some alternate venues, and we are looking at how we can increase throughput," she said.
"It's around optimising our staffing resources ... if we've got too many sites at once, that's spreading staff thin."
A pop-up testing centre, run by Capital Pathology, will soon be established for people who potentially came in contact with a 14-year-old Gold Creek School student who tested positive for the virus on Friday morning.
About 2000 people are expected to be tested at that site.
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman urged people not to be discouraged by the long wait times, and said that if they couldn't get a test, they should stay at home and come back when they could.
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"We are all trying to do our best - none of us are trying to stop somebody getting tested," she said.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the government was looking to get staff in from across Calvary and the private hospital network.
"We had our own surge staffing arrangements in place. We have surged up quite significantly, but we will continue to do that," she said.
She said no jurisdiction had been able to keep up with testing demand at the onset of an outbreak.
Thursday was a record testing day with more than 2000 swabs taken.
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