Testing from cars to be rolled out

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Health Minister Roger Cook has confirmed drive-through COVID-19 clinics are coming to Busselton and Bunbury.
Camera IconHealth Minister Roger Cook has confirmed drive-through COVID-19 clinics are coming to Busselton and Bunbury. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian, Nic Ellis

Busselton and Bunbury will get drive-through COVID-19 testing clinics in a late deal welcomed by the private sector, with providers saying Margaret River will be next in line if the program is successful.

Private operator Clinipath Pathology will run the clinics, which were approved yesterday, after Times inquiries about a delay to the program.

Health Minister Roger Cook, pictured, confirmed four centres would open, with 11 other private sites added earlier last month.

The drive-through clinics open on Monday.

“As more testing equipment and reagents have become available, we have been able to expand testing to make it available to a wider proportion of the community,” Mr Cook said.

“While WA is currently in the fortunate position of having low daily case numbers, we can’t become complacent about testing.

“That’s why expanding the reach of these centres is so important.”

The confirmed new centres come after Clinipath chief executive Dr Narelle Hadlow lobbied to fast-track the testing sites after a bureaucratic hold-up.

Dr Hadlow said additional Health Department approval steps had delayed the roll-out.

“If Busselton and Bunbury drive-throughs are popular, Clinipath would consider further sites in Margaret River and other towns,” she said. “Additionally, further opportunity to support the FIFO workforce has also been suggested.”

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam lobbied the health minister on Clinipath’s behalf.

“Accessible and expanded testing is a critical tool in easing restrictions and opening the economy,” she said.

“It is also an important measure to be taken to prevent or respond to any spikes of the COVID-19 virus in the community.”

Private operators had significant capacity to fill the gap left untended by the public health system, she said.

“This extra capacity provides opportunity for testing at sites across regional WA,” Ms Mettam said.

“The expansion of testing through the private sector has the potential to create increased convenience for local residents, with the provision of home collection services at no additional cost to the patient or the State.

“Furthermore, it is my understanding that there is great enthusiasm for such a service to be provided to assist in expanding the scope of community testing across this State.”

The Health Department did not provide a breakdown of testing figures for the Capes region before deadline.

The Premier’s office said 1938 tests had been returned negative as of Wednesday, with no new COVID-19 cases in the South West.

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