COVID test clinic shifts

Clinical staff operate Castlemaine's drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic that has now relocated to the McGrath Street stadium in Wesley Hill. Photo: Eve Lamb

While more than 95 per cent of eligible people living in Castlemaine have now been double vaxxed, the town’s newly relocated COVID testing clinic is experiencing strong demand for testing, particularly from people who’ve attended exposure sites.

The drive-through clinic last week shifted from where it had been operating in Mostyn Street to the McGrath Street stadium carpark in Wesley Hill.

Clinical leader Bronwyn Grieve said the shift had been mainly prompted by a need to protect staff running the clinic from the effects of working in personal protective equipment in weather extremes as the days heated up.

“On average we’re getting between 60 and 70 people a day coming through,” she said.

“You can’t predict it. Some days we might have 50 and the next we might end up seeing 150 people.

“Our numbers have been consistent since the end of September. We’re still getting high numbers coming through.

“Most coming through are (those who have been at) exposure sites at the moment.

“But it’s a real mixture, a lot of people travelling and needing a test before they travel. A lot of people are coming when they’ve got symptoms. And we’ve got some return travellers from overseas.”

Tests conducted at the local clinic have, in some cases, returned positives.

“We are getting a number of positives coming back,” Ms Grieve said.

“I think that because we’ve got a lot more mixing of people now there are more positives, whether they’re from Castlemaine or from outside Castlemaine, there are positives brewing out there all the time.”

The clinic leader also said those getting tested had included a mixture the fully vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“We’re getting a lot of children come through who obviously aren’t vaccinated yet (due to their young age group),” she said.

Castlemaine Health CEO Sue Race said the new stadium site was also better able to handle larger numbers when demand for testing surged.

“This is a big change but it’s necessary to enable us to continue safely managing our local testing capacity,” Ms Race said.

Castlemaine Health spokeswoman Janine McCarthy said the hospital’s vaccination clinic had now also started administering third-dose boosters for those who were double vaxxed at least six months ago.

Latest available state data shows at least 95 per cent of people living in the Castlemaine postcode area have now received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine – well above the national average of about 89 per cent.

“We’re above most places. We’re doing really really well,” Ms Grieve said.

The newly relocated testing clinic is operating 9.30am to 11.30am Monday to Friday and staff say online or phone bookings are preferred. Bookings can be made on 5479 1005 or by registering at online.