She then drove to the Earlwood clinic, where, after more than an hour wait, she expected to receive her result before its 4pm closing time – a wait of just under two hours.
Hayfever sufferer Emma Hayman waited at the Summer Hill drive-through clinic from 8.30am for a precautionary test. She drove out after receiving it at 12.45pm.
“The staff there were great, they funnelled it through really well and were taking people to the bathroom and offering water,” she said, adding she passed the time with podcasts and by tuning into the state government’s update at 11am.
Lydia Jupp and her father, Mike, were in the Summer Hill line for three hours when they made it to check-in about 3pm. She said the staff had explained the process and Christmas decorations along the route helped brighten the experience.
“I’m reading. I figured it would be a long wait so I came prepared,” Lydia said. “It’s been pretty painless, honestly.”
By 2pm, testing clinics at Ashfield and Rozelle had started turning people away. Agatha Mossakowska was in line from 10.20am to 2.20pm at Rozelle and managed to receive her test, which she sought ahead of seeing family at Christmas.
“With the spread being quite extensive I was keen to know, and hopefully in time to have a safe Christmas with my mum,” she said.
Some left busy clinics only to find comparatively quieter ones close by. While the waiting time for testing at Summer Hill was several hours at nearby Stanmore it was less than 30 minutes.
On Sunday, eastern suburbs clinics appeared to be the busiest outside of the northern beaches, after a positive case attended Bondi Westfield at lunchtime last Wednesday resulting in thousands of people directed to get tested.
NSW Health said it had increased capacity across existing clinics as well as opening 10 more pop-up clinics on the northern beaches.
“However, we realise people have been experiencing extended waiting times in some cases and thank them for their patience,” NSW Health said in a statement.
NSW reported a record 38,578 coronavirus tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday.
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Mary Ward is a health reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.