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COVID-19 test delays causing havoc in the Mitchell Shire

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By Tricia Mifsud

Mitchell Shire businesses are having to close doors and minimise trading hours due to shortages and delays in staff receiving COVID-19 test results.

Despite lockdowns finishing, businesses are being affected by staff shortages due to a lack of supply of rapid antigen tests, RAT, and the delay in receiving results for polymerase chain reaction, PCR, tests.

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In the week from Tuesday, January 11 until yesterday, 102,824 people tested positive via RAT tests and 123,425 by PCR tests in Victoria.

Mac’s Irish Pub and Bistro in Kilmore shut its doors on January 8 for a week after owner Manny Singh tested positive to COVID-19 while on holiday in Yarrawonga.

Mr Singh said a staff member had also tested positive, with he and the other person developing symptoms and testing positive on January 8.

While Mr Singh and the other staff member were not at the pub when they tested positive, he made the decision to close the pub for the week as a precaution while they waited isolated.

“We all went for tests, and I didn’t want to put staff and customers at risk. The best way to deal with it was to close everything down,” he said.

“Everyone else is fine, and we’ve done our tests, it was just me and one staff member that was positive – everyone else is negative.”

Mr Singh said he was in a fortunate position to have already purchased several RATs and was able to test immediately when his symptoms presented.

He and the other employee also took a PCR test and on January 13 still hadn’t received the results from that test.

Mr Singh said while the business lost money when closed, it had been able to manage.

But he was unsure if it could continue to do so if a similar situation occurred again, and there continued to be issues with obtaining RATs or PCR results.

“I am trying to understand the rules. I spoke to Northern Health [and they suggested] once you get COVID, you are fine for three or four months, but I don’t know what will happen if we are exposed again,” he said.

“There’s still unclear stuff with this virus, but hopefully there is more clarity with when and how to isolate.”

The State Government took possession of three million RATs yesterday, the first of its 44 million test order, which will be directed to essential workers in the health system, emergency services, and disability and aged care services.

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