NSW residents wait up to six days for COVID-19 tests results as service feels the pressure – ABC News

NSW's pathology services have come under intense criticism for delays and errors in COVID-19 testing, which have seen some infected patients waiting up to a week for results.
Once praised for being able to turn around a swab result in hours, testing services have begun to groan under unprecedented demand triggered by soaring case numbers.
Rose, who did not wish to use her full name, said it took Medlab Pathology six days to return a positive result to a COVID-19 test she took on December 21.
The eastern suburbs woman was in isolation the entire time and missed out on spending Christmas Day with her family, whom she hadn't seen in a year.
"I knew it would be a long wait, but didn't expect it to be a whole week," she said.
Rose is due to return to work on January 31 but has been waiting for NSW Health to contact her with instructions. She said she was furious at the lab, which had been non-responsive.
"I'm very pissed at Medlab. I've been trying to call them and when I got through to them one time on December 23, they said it could be another two days," she said.
"Every time I've rang since, it ends up on an answering machine or it hangs up. I've lost track of how many calls I've made so far and email doesn't work either.
"We're in the middle of a pandemic, and it's holidays, I get it … but how did it get so bad?"
Rose said she was frustrated people who went to other clinics were able to get their results back before her but the grass wasn't always greener on the other side.
The ABC has spoken to several people who have found themselves stranded, out-of-pocket or both due to delays or errors in their test results.
About 1,355 people were wrongly texted a negative COVID-19 result from SydPath, run by Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, in the past two days.
At least 400 of those people were actually positive.
Part of the enormous demand for testing is due to negative PCR tests being required for both domestic and international travel.
Up until 8pm Sunday, 97,241 tests were carried out — a drop from the 109,545 tests done the previous day.
Leilani Mogg from Silverwater said she was still waiting on results from 4Cyte clinic in North Ryde for COVID-19 tests that were taken on December 18.
Ms Mogg's mother and aunt, who were caught in lockdown after travelling to Sydney from the Philippines 22 months ago, required a pre-departure COVID test to return home.
Australians will soon only have to wait four months between their second COVID vaccine and booster, with plans to reduce the gap even further.
But after no word from 4Cyte, the Silverwater woman had to rush her family to Sydney International Airport and pay for an express testing service, which was done within an hour.
Ms Mogg is out of pocket hundreds of dollars and still hasn't heard back from the pathology service, despite repeated calls and emails.
"I went to their Facebook page and found out we are not the only one who have had massive complaints," Ms Mogg said.
4Cyte has not responded to the ABC's requests for comment.
Sydney author Kerri Sackville, whose family has waited five days for a result from Histopath Pathology, said she felt like the "government has let us all down".
"As far as I can see, the system has completely broken down," Ms Sackville said.
"I'm not even sure it's worth getting a PCR test when you're waiting five days to get the results, and by that time it's going to be invalid and you have to get it again.
"If you don't know whether you have COVID-19, you can’t keep your family safe … we’re too scared to go out."
The NSW government has urged people to not get tested unless they are symptomatic or have been specifically directed by health authorities to get swabbed.
Leading epidemiologist Marylouise McLaws, however, said people coming forward to get tested should be applauded.
"Australians go to get tested when they are asked or when they think they have to — so they need to be congratulated for this," Professor McLaws said.
She said the state governments should have had better foresight.
"There should have been some planning to understand that Australians would want to go out and get tested before they went to see their families, because they are very responsible people," she said.
"But they have not done that in New South Wales or anywhere in Australia so they should have been giving out free rapid antigen testing before the holidays."
Last week, the state government announced free testing kits would be provided but no date has been given for their distribution.
The NSW government has been contacted for a response.
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