Hundreds of healthy people are being voluntarily tested for COVID-19 at a one-day clinic at Mann Central Wodonga.
In the first testing of asymptomatic people by Albury Wodonga Health, four testing stations are being run by staff in an empty shopfront near the shopping centre car park until 3pm today.
A line of about 40 people persisted at the clinic for its first two hours from 10am.
AWH pandemic response director Sally Squire said she was pleased with the turn-out, which the health service was anticipating in line with public interest in the pandemic.
"We're welcoming all adult members of the community and we've particularly come to a retail centre because I think a lot of our retail staff ... are still having a lot of contact with members of the community," she said.
"We're certainly encouraging people who work here at the centre to come and get tested.
"We know there's been a lot of community interest in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're really pleased with the response - we did anticipate quite a demand."
As people wait to be tested - which during peaks could be about 30 minutes - they are asked to fill in consent forms and provide their Medicare card details.
"The testing we're conducting here is exactly the same [as our permanent testing clinic], it's just the cohort of people that we're testing is different," she said.
"Our clinic [established at Albury Wodonga Health] is certainly looking at people who are feeling unwell and are displaying signs and symptoms.
"Adults with no symptoms are the people we're targeting today.
"It's really important that people who are coming in to be tested give consent.
"They're given information about the test, and what the test might mean, and when they can expect the result.
"What the tests involves is a cotton-bud on a long stick, that we put down the back of someone's mouth into their throat, and up the nose - it is a little uncomfortable.
"We also have to fill in a pathology request slip."
Ms Squire said there had been some changes to where tests from AWH were being sent for analysis since the beginning of the pandemic.
"All the testing in Victoria was being run through one pathology clinic in Melbourne and obviously the demand for the tests grew," she said.
"That service has expanded.
"All the tests that are done here today will go to Dorevitch Pathology in Melbourne.
"Given the number of tests that have been conducted across the state ... how long it takes for us to get a result could potentially be up to around four days at the moment."
People will be texted if they receive a negative result.
"If we were to receive a positive result for anybody, we would certainly contact that person via telephone and talk to them in a lot more detail about what would happen next," Ms Squire said.
"Contact tracing would occur if there was a positive result - getting an understanding of where they've been, and who they've been in contact with within a certain period of time and us working our way around those people."
The one-day pop-up clinic at Wodonga is part of a two-week testing blitz in Victoria which is aiming for 100,000 people to be tested by Monday.
Shopping centre car-parks in Melbourne have been turned into large drive-through testing sites, and there are regional walk-through pop-up clinics happening in Kialla, Shepparton, Morwell, Ballarat and Belmont.
"The state of emergency finishes up on Monday in Victoria, so this all adds to the data that the Department [of Health and Human Services] will have to make really good decisions around any considerations for easing restrictions," Ms Squire said.
"People are making the most of it."
The clinic, which will only happen today unless further advice is given from the state government, comes after the busiest day at Albury Wodonga Health's clinic for people with symptoms.
More than 100 people were tested and Ms Squire agreed this was likely because the weather was cooling and people were experiencing flu-like symptoms.
"I think there is an element of that - as we head into winter, it does become cold and flu season," she said.
"Obviously people are very alert to how they're feeling.
"We would still continue to strongly urge any community members who are feeling unwell, who have fever, chills, aches or pains, or anything else that might be described as a cold- or flu-type symptom, to ring their GP or call us on our hospital hotline of (02) 6058 4444."
IN OTHER NEWS:
AWH cleared its final patient who had COVID-19 this week.
Like Murrumbidgee Local Health District, which requires people to wait 72 hours without symptoms and to undergo a clinical assessment before being released, patients being manged in Victoria must also fulfill criteria.
"It's very similar [to MLHD] - we have some very strict criteria around what we're calling 'release from isolation'," Ms Squire said.
"It's usually around the number of hours a patient hasn't had symptoms for, and for certain groups like healthcare workers, we do some repeat testing.
"We're very actively monitoring anybody that has been in isolation.
"We've had some patients who were this week released from isolation and they are monitored every single day for their health and welfare."
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.