NSW pressures Qld to drop PCR requirement

Tiffanie Turnbull |

Travellers seeking COVID-19 tests are delaying the diagnoses of people who are actually sick, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says, as he plead with the Queensland government to change its border entry requirements.

Mr Perrottet said “tourism testing” is clogging up the already overwhelmed testing system in NSW, as the state reported another 6062 infections on Tuesday.

The number of tests processed across the state dropped to just over 93,500 over the same period.

Thousands of people across NSW – including travellers required to have a negative PCR test before arriving in Queensland – are queuing for hours to be swabbed.

Wait times for results are even longer, with the usual 24 hour turnaround blowing out to five days in some cases.

“There are people getting tests who don’t have any symptoms, are not feeling unwell… and are taking the place of people who are unwell or who are required to get a test by NSW Health,” he said.

Mr Perrottet wants Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to change the rule immediately and instead accept rapid antigen test results, he said.

However the test kits are in short supply in NSW, with residents reporting they are impossible to buy.

He also pleaded for only those who are unwell or contacted by NSW Health to present for testing, to help alleviate pressure on clinics, many of which have reduced operating hours over the festive period.

“We are still seeing many people in those queues who do not need to be there,” he said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard earlier hit out at Queensland for the pressure its requirements were placing on state testing systems.

Wait times are now so long the results are no longer even relevant, Mr Hazzard told reporters on Tuesday.

“They might have been negative on day one when they had their test, but they could well be positive on day four or day five when they cross the border,” he said.

“It makes no sense at all.”

One traveller who spoke to AAP said some people hoping to travel north may even struggle to get swabbed.

She arrived at a Port Macquarie testing clinic before it opened and queued for more than 90 minutes, before being turned away when staff spotted her Queensland licence plates.

The woman said she had to leave the queue and return in her mother’s car to secure a test.

While Ms Palaszczuk denies Queensland’s requirements are contributing significantly to NSW’s testing woes, she has hinted they may be scrapped on January 1.

Queensland is also in the grips of a massive outbreak, with 1158 new cases reported on Tuesday.