People have waited more than five days for COVID-19 test results after pathology staff in regional NSW were themselves forced to isolate.
Aisha Cotton was tested with her husband in Wellington last Friday morning, answering the call as new cases popped up in Dubbo.
While her results came back on Monday evening, her husband's took until Wednesday evening.
All up, he spent 131 hours in isolation.
"We are able to work from home but he hasn't been able to see his daughter (from a previous relationship) until he receives his results. It's been really hard on her," Ms Cotton told AAP.
She was also given three different numbers to register the couple to receive the results.
Calls to a hotline for those not receiving a result within 72 hours mostly went unanswered.
When one call was finally answered, Ms Cotton was told they couldn't help and "to keep waiting".
A similar story played out in Cobar where a resident said she and her neighbours had waited five days for results after visiting Dubbo during times of concern and later showing symptoms.
"There are multiple people off work pending results and that for some has been a full week off work using their own sick leave," the woman, who asked not to be named, told AAP.
Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan said delays were caused by pathology staff being identified as contacts of known cases.
Those staff were beginning to return to work.
"We do expect some faster turnaround time. Yesterday we saw a lot of the tests taken to Orange and results were returned in record time," he said.
He urged people to continue turning up at testing clinics to quash the outbreak.
Regional NSW's lockdown was on Thursday extended to at least August 28, bringing its settings into line with Greater Sydney and surrounds.
But the NSW government still hopes the regions can drive COVID-19 cases close to zero and exit lockdown sooner than Sydney.
There were 25 new local COVID-19 cases reported in western NSW to 8pm on Wednesday, taking the total for the region to 167.
Five cases were also uncovered in Hunter New England local health district, and one each in the Central Coast, Mid-North Coast and Southern NSW districts.
The ADF will help set up 33 pop-up vaccination clinics across western NSW, from August 26 through to September.
Ms Berejiklian said on Thursday "concerns remain" for western NSW, whereas other parts of the regions are "settling down".
Meanwhile, regional businesses are calling to be offered the same support that was given to Sydney-based firms hit by the early weeks of the lockdown.
A payment between $7500 and $15,000 is available for companies that suffered a decline in turnover in June and July, but the regions were only locked down in August.
Regional businesses can apply for a weekly payment under the JobSaver scheme.
Shadow minister for customer service, digital and the Hunter, Yasmin Catley, said the one-off payment helped absorb the shock of lockdowns, like covering utilities and rent.
She said the government's failure to extend the same payment to regional businesses showed they were not a priority.
"'I have been contacted by small business owners who are struggling to keep their doors open after pouring years of hard work into the business," Ms Catley said.
"These businesses are crucial employers in the regions and must be supported by the government by extending the COVID-19 business grant to the regions."
Australian Associated Press
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