BENDIGO Health experienced "unexpected and unprecedented demand" for COVID-19 testing at its drive-through clinic yesterday, following confirmation of a case at Don KR Castlemaine.
A Bendigo Health spokesperson said there were long waits at the Mercy Street clinic at times yesterday.
"We are pleased to see the Bendigo community heeding the message that they should be tested if they have symptoms," the spokesperson said.
"We also tested a large number of staff from Don KR Castlemaine."
The Mercy Street clinic's operating hours were extended.
The spokesperson said some people were redirected to Bendigo Health's other clinic, which is in the old Emergency Department on Stewart Street.
A Bendigo woman, who wished to remain anonymous, waited about 30 minutes for a test at the drive-through clinic.
Her vehicle was among a number directed away from the testing centre by traffic management.
The woman filmed some of the interactions between traffic management and several of the vehicles ahead of hers, out of concern about the way the situation was being managed.
The traffic management officials were not employed by Bendigo Health.
The footage, shot at 3.30pm, showed a long line of vehicles approaching the hospital's Mercy Street entrance, along with a queue of vehicles heading away from the hospital.
Traffic management appeared to be instructing vehicles to leave the queue.
It is unclear from the footage whether the vehicles were directed to another testing site.
An official could be heard telling the occupants of one vehicle, "It's not all about you", and the occupants of another vehicle, "I haven't got time to argue."
"After seeing how aggressive he was to the other people we were like, 'We'll just listen to him'," the woman said.
She said she received "no communication" about why vehicles were being asked to leave.
Closing a testing site when traffic becomes unmanageable is understood to be standard practice to enable staff to work through the backlog.
Sites reopen when staff have capacity.
The woman later secured an appointment at the Bendigo Respiratory Clinic in Spring Gully.
She was relieved to have been able to be tested, but concerned by the tension she witnessed at the Mercy Street site.
"It's scary because this is so serious and so many people can be affected by this," she said.
"To say the world doesn't revolve around you... Obviously that's why people are going - so they can stop putting other people at risk."
The woman urged people to seek alternative testing sites if one became unavailable or if there was a long queue.
Testing is available for Don KR Castlemaine staff at the factory in Castlemaine.
Other testing sites include:
- Bendigo Health (Drive-through) - Latrobe University (Rural Health School), Mercy street, 7.30am - 7.30pm, 7 days
- Bendigo Health (walk-in) - Hospital Respiratory Clinic, 100 Barnard Street (located in Stewart Street Bendigo, the old Emergency Department), 10.00am -5.30pm, 7 days
- Maryborough District Health - 75-87 Clarendon Street, Maryborough 3465, 9.00am-5.00pm, weekdays, 9.00am - 4.00pm weekends (By appointment: 03 5461 0362)
It is understood Don KR Castlemaine employees are being instructed to self-quarantine at home after getting a test, pending further advice from the department - even if the test comes back negative.
People in Victoria are generally encouraged to call the COVID-19 hotline - which is open 24/7 - if they suspect they have the virus.
The COVID-19 hotline is 1800 675 398