The Northern NSW Local Health District has seen a recent spike in testing numbers.
The Northern NSW Local Health District has seen a recent spike in testing numbers.

Spike in COVID testing, extra staff called in

The health district has acknowledged that a spike in demand for COVID-19 testing over the weekend caused delays at the Lismore Base Hospital clinic.

Patients presenting for testing over the weekend reported four-hour waits.

A health worker also said they had been "flogged", with no time for breaks, and called for more clinics and more staff.

Northern NSW Local Health District acting chief executive, Lynne Weir, thanked the community for coming forward for testing.

"I urge anyone with even the mildest symptoms, to get tested immediately, then isolate until they receive a negative result," she said.

"In the week ending Sunday, January 10, NNSWLHD conducted 3251 COVID tests.

"This is approximately a 50 per cent increase on the previous week.

"Testing demand was high over the weekend, with 585 tests on Friday, 748 on Saturday and 455 on Sunday.

"Due to the increased demand, wait times were longer than average.

"Additional staff were called in to help with the load and clinics remained open longer than regular hours.

"We appreciate the community's patience.

"Previous weekends have not seen significant increase in testing demand."

In addition to the four hospital testing clinics at Lismore, Byron Bay, Tweed Heads and Grafton, Ms Weir said there are "multiple other sites to get tested across Northern NSW".

But many of those are not open for testing on the weekends.

The health district did not respond to questions about whether they would consider opening another clinic on the weekends, in particular at high population areas such as Ballina.

The health district also did not respond to questions on whether the demand for COVID testing had impacted on other areas of the hospital.

There have been no new confirmed cases of locally acquired COVID-19 reported in Northern NSW Local Health District residents since July 25, 2020.

Visit the website to find your closest COVID-19 testing clinic.