Would You Like Swabs With That? Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing Clinics Open

Australia's first drive-through testing facilities for coronavirus have opened in a bid to ease increasing pressure on GPs and hospitals.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall opened one of the facilities in Adelaide on Tuesday.

"We know that we're not going to be immune from the coronavirus in Australia, we're certainly not going to be immune here in SA," the Premier said.

Those who attend the clinic, based at the Repat Hospital, need a referral from a GP before turning up, but once they do, it's simply a matter of putting the window down for a mouth and nose swab.

A patient has a mouth swab taken. Image: 10 News First

The samples will then be taken to SA Pathology labs by nurses, and all staff will be wearing full personal protective equipment.

The new collection centre will support the COVID-19 clinics at the of Adelaide's metropolitan hospitals that opened in the past week.

"The COVID clinics are really more directed at patients who have had overseas travel, who are symptomatic within 14 days of returning," said SA Pathology's Clinical Service Director Dr Tom Dodd.

"Patients out in the community will be seeing their GPs with all sorts of respiratory symptoms, coughs, colds, sore throats.. many won't be at a high risk of having COVID-19 but this will be another alternative for collection of respiratory specimens."



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Similar makeshift clinics have also opened in Melbourne and Wollongong.

Former Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal puts on a moon suit, mask and shoe covers before meeting patients outside his Altona North clinic.

After calling ahead, patients drive to the car park and remain in their vehicles before Dr Haikerwal comes out to take a swab while protected from transmitting the disease.

Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, who is running a coronavirus clinic. Image: Twitter

"They park outside the building and we go out one entrance that is okay to go out of to do the swabs, collect the swabs and they can go off and self-isolate until their result comes back," Dr Haikerwal told 3AW radio on Tuesday.

The makeshift car park clinic is the first of many expected to open in the coming weeks at car parks and open spaces, near medical practices across Melbourne.

The federal government has flagged funding the drive-through COVID-19 testing sites at up to 10 Victorian medical clinics, Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait told 3AW on Tuesday.

A drive-thru coronavirus test clinic in Wollongong, NSW. Image: WIN News

A similar operation is also running in Wollongong, NSW.

One man, Rick, told 10 daily he had attended a medical clinic in the city on Monday afternoon, but on reaching the front of the line after a long wait, was told that it was too late and he would have to return on Tuesday.

He was given an appointment at 3.30pm, nearly 24 hours after he first went to the clinic. Rick said he was told by clinic staff on Monday that he could not risk returning to the public facility again, and was instead directed to a parking lot up the road from the clinic.

He self-isolated until Tuesday's appointment, and described the test venue as "a tent in a car park where I am required to stay in my car".

In the back lot of a pathology lab, Rick and others lined up in their cars, waiting for professionals in coats and masks to take their samples. He claimed some other patients did not wear masks, as they had been directed, to the test.

Rick said he was told it could be at least 48 hours before his test results are known, but it could be even longer.

With AAP.

Feature image: 10 News First

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