The ACT says it will provide better updates on wait times, saying staff had been too busy to provide the previously promised information on queues.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith also warned Canberrans against travelling beyond the regional bubble to get tested elsewhere in NSW.
With people queuing up for hours at EPIC and Brindabella Park testing facilities this week only to be turned away when they reach capacity at the end of the day, Ms Stephen-Smith had advised residents on Tuesday to check social media regularly for updates on wait times.
The Health Minister acknowledged on Wednesday that ACT Health staff had been too busy to provide the promised advice on queues.
She said ACT Health and Canberra Health Services had now been asked to work together to provide more regular updates about wait times.
"So we really ask people to focus on that because we know that for the public, that information is actually absolutely critical," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
ACT Health provided an update 4.30pm, saying there was a more than three-hour wait at Brindabella and Exhibition Park, and a one-hour wait at Weston. The Kambah centre closed at 4pm.
▪️ Drive Through COVID-19 Testing at Exhibition Park in Canberra: 3+ hours— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) August 18, 2021
▪️ Drive Through COVID-19 Testing at Kambah: Closes at 4pm each day
▪️ Weston Creek Walk-in Centre COVID-19 Testing Clinic: 1 hour
An earlier update at 12.40pm said Brindabella had a three-hour wait, Exhibition Park a five-hour wait, Kambah a two-hour wait and Weston Creek a two-hour wait.
It also flagged a high number of calls to its helpline, and encouraged people to check for answers online.
⚠️ Lockdown in the ACT, including the six essential reasons you can leave home: https://t.co/si4Q52R7Cy— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) August 18, 2021
📍 ACT COVID-19 exposure locations: https://t.co/lP117DUdz4
📰 Latest updates: https://t.co/R3J2jakXKC
🧪 COVID-19 testing clinic locations: https://t.co/9O794xe1xo
She also revealed that about 400 health staff at Canberra Health Services and Calvary Hospital have had to go into quarantine or isolate due to them being at a Covid exposure site.
With thousands of people identified as contacts of more than 100 exposure sites in the ACT and long wait times at Canberra testing facilities, residents have avoided queues in Canberra to get tested at locations inside the bubble, including Queanbeyan hospital.
While ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has previously thanked the bordering health services for the extra support, her message to Canberrans on Wednesday was not to breach public health orders by travelling beyond the neighbouring towns.
Ms Stephen-Smith told ABC radio that with the territory declared a hotspot, ACT residents risked being fined.
"Please do not venture out of the ACT to try and go and get tested elsewhere in NSW," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
"It is not in line with their restrictions, they have obviously declared the ACT a hotspot and you are risking being pulled over by NSW police."
The demand for testing was expected to surge again on Wednesday with thousands of students and parents in quarantine after Harrison School was confirmed as a close-contact location in the latest list published by ACT Health.
Ten more close-contact exposure sites were added to the list late on Tuesday night, with almost 2000 primary and secondary students at Harrison and their families to be sent into immediate quarantine.
Ms Stephen-Smith said families with students in year three to 10 should already have been notified of where they could be tested at the Gold Creek popup facility.
She said families not in that age bracket would be notified of arrangement for their priority testing soon.
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