Victoria's COVID commander Jeroen Weimar was on the Border for the opening of Wodonga's newest COVID-19 testing clinic at Gateway Lakes on Friday morning.
The four lane, drive-through Lakeside Clinic has the capacity to double the testing numbers at Wodonga's Vermont Street and Smythe Street clinics and will operate from 7.30am to 3.00pm seven days a week.
Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael Kalimnios said the Wodonga Racecourse and Vermont Street clinics had both closed, but opening the Lakeside facility would reduce waiting times.
"The opening of this facility will almost double our capacity, so it's really terrific," he said.
Mr Kalimnios said the Smythe Street clinic capacity had also doubled and would continue to operate from 7.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.
"Along with the clinics Murrumbidgee [Local Health District] are running on the other side as well as other private providers, we now have six clinics available for testing to which I think we're pretty confident to meet the demand."
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AWH executive director Lucie Shanahan said the layout and location of the drive-through clinic made it easier for the community to get tested.
"At the peak of the recent COVID outbreak, our three testing clinics in Wodonga were operating beyond capacity," she said.
"We have been eager to find a longer term solution, and are pleased we have been able to work with Wodonga Council on the new site at Gateway Lakes."
Ms Shanahan said the increased testing capacity proved particularly timely, as many locals will be requiring Day 13 tests over the coming week.
"We again thank the community for its support and patience during the recent outbreak and thank our staff for their outstanding efforts in getting people tested," she said.
AWH logistics manager Gerard Coyle said the Lakeside Clinic was equipped for the hotter upcoming summer weather.
"The really large tents allow for a lot of shaded area," he said.
"We're also going to have air conditioning for the staff and take more regular breaks when we're in those really hot summer periods.
"The staff will also have access to what's called 'ice vests', which live in a freezer and so they can use those to cool off their neck bands."
Wodonga COVID commander Jeroen Weimar said 15 per cent of all COVID cases were now in regional Victoria so testing capacity was vital.
"It's great to actually have this [new testing clinic] because it's also a physical commitment to the ongoing management of COVID over the summer months," he said.
"This isn't quite over yet, we need to ensure anyone who has symptoms comes forward quickly to get tested and you'll be able to do that here, you'll be able to do that efficiently and simply..."
Mr Weimar emphasised the importance of vaccination in getting case numbers down and allowing the state to move beyond restrictions.
"Let's all hope that the border restrictions are now something very much in our history and we don't go back to those again," he said.
"The way we avoid that is by getting ourselves vaccinated and really stamping out the last remaining cases of COVID in our community."
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