COVID-19 test period at Cessnock certain to be extended after huge demand

Demand has been so great at the Cessnock COVID-19 testing site that Hunter New England Public Health Physician Dr David Durrheim expects the week-long test period will be extended.

The Cessnock Hospital site managed 97 tests on the first two days of operation - Wednesday and Thursday - and had a further 79 tests booked in for Friday.

"It has been very busy and phones have been running hot," Dr Durrheim admitted.

"As long as there is ongoing demand we will keep it going, so I would ask people to be patient. We will continue testing through Saturday and Sunday as well."

Dr Durrheim said when demand drops off, they will revert to their original position of testing through GPs.

He acknowledged that he had received feedback about extended phone delays for many people trying to tee up a test.

"We had one person answering the calls, but we are looking at improving that," he said.

Once tested, people will learn of negative results via a confidential SMS message.

"Unfortunately it can take a while to book on the phone because at the same time as you are booking, we take the relevant details needed for the text, and you need a PIN number for privacy - so that all gets done at the same time," Dr Durrheim said.

"Positive test results will come via a phone call from the public health service, not by SMS."

Dr Durrheim said that there has been no positive cases in the Lower Hunter for some time - "which is good, but there were very few tests, especially in Cessnock to start with, which is why we'll be happy to keep the site there open".

Since it opened on March 16, Maitland Hospital test clinic had performed 2466 tests by Friday.

This story Rush at Cessnock COVID-19 site means test period will be extended first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.