DRIVE-THROUGH TEST: Dr Shashi Varsani and lead nurse Connie Saunders.
DRIVE-THROUGH TEST: Dr Shashi Varsani and lead nurse Connie Saunders.

Drive-through coronavirus clinic opens in Emerald

FIVE minutes is all it will take to get tested for coronavirus at a new ‘drive-through’ clinic in Emerald.

Priority Health Group this week started COVID-19 testing, available to customers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am.

Dr Shashi Varsani expected an increase in the demand for testing as coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

“The reason we’ve done this is that we believe the demand for testing will rapidly increase and people need a drive-through option,” he said.

“The whole idea is to identify unknown cases in the community that would not otherwise have been discovered. Early identification means early containment.

“It’s vitally important that people get tested, so it needs to be as simple as possible.”

The COVID-19 section of the practice is located at the back of the Priority Health building. Patients are required to prove their identity and are then swabbed at the back of the mouth.

Dr Varsani said the whole process took “about five minutes” and results would typically be available between 24 to 36 hours later.

“The government up to about a week ago were only testing case definitions,” he said.

“Now the government advises that if you’ve sore throat, fever, sniffle, don’t feel right, come in and get tested.”

Dr Varsani said the initial bottleneck for testing was not having sufficient protective equipment for staff, but after ordering some from China, he now had a problem of too few nurses.

“PPE has been the biggest limitation for testing in general practice,” he said.

“We couldn’t get a hold of any for six to eight weeks. This clinic had to order directly from China.

“I’ve spent an inordinate amount of money bringing PPE in from China.”

Priority Health Group is at 46 Ruby Street, Emerald. Bookings for the COVID-19 clinic can be made over the phone or online.

There is yet to be a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Central Highlands.


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