“We normally only do one or two a day,” said Dr Garra, who works at MyClinic Werribee Village.
“One lady said she waited an hour and 40 minutes, before giving up and ringing here.”
Dr Garra said they had to turn away people who were not usually customers of the clinic as they wished to preserve their limited protective gear but saw their usual patients by setting up their own makeshift drive-through testing.
Among the patients to visit Dr Garra’s surgery on Monday was 12-year-old Emily Grosso who had cold symptoms and had tried to get tested at Pacific Werribee Shopping Centre in the morning.
“So we were waiting in line and we were almost inside in the car park and two people walked out with a sign saying ‘testing closed’,” Emily said.
Her mother, Hailee Grosso, said the drive-through site had also been closed on Sunday.
“It is not as easy as what I thought it was going to be to get her tested,” she said.
“We are not overly concerned that it is COVID … but with school and sports we are just taking every precaution.”
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said that testing clinics at Chadstone and Northland shopping centres would reopen at 8am on Tuesday morning, one hour earlier than normal, to help deal with the extra demand.
A Health Department spokeswoman said while there were more than 100 testing sites across the state, they were aware that some sites, particularly drive-throughs, were experiencing “extremely high demand”.
“It’s a good thing Victorians are going out and getting tested and we ask everyone to please be patient and understanding as our dedicated health care workers on site do their best to get through everyone as quickly as possible,” she said.
Officials are still urging anyone with coronavirus symptoms “however mild” to visit testing sites and the Health Department has responded to increased demand with a number of new testing locations, including new pop-up clinics in Keilor Downs and Dandenong.
Primary school PE teacher Matthew Cardamore said he drove to a drive-through testing centre in Dandenong on Monday morning, only to be told that it had already reached capacity 15 minutes into the day.
He said that a traffic controller told him “we need more testing sites, we can’t keep up”.
Mr Cardamore, who had developed a sore throat and body aches late on Sunday, said he then waited 3½ hours at Southland Shopping Centre in Cheltenham, where cars were banked up the Nepean Highway.
“I just sat in the car and listened to the radio,” he said.
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Aisha Dow reports on health for The Age and is a former city reporter.