As Christmas approaches, the chaos around COVID testing wait times seems to be getting worse. Some testing sites in Melbourne are reaching capacity before they even open for the day, while others in Sydney don’t return results for up to five days.

Demand for COVID testing is spiking again as people try to travel interstate to see their family, while hundreds of others are named contacts and must receive a negative test result to be free by Christmas.

Some testing sites, like Melbourne Showgrounds, are so packed that they’re reaching capacity before they open at 7am, News.com.au reports. And that’s with increased hours and 20 new testing sites opening in the state.

News.com.au also reported that Melbourne’s Albert Park facility had a 3.5 hour COVID testing wait time in the morning.

PEDESTRIAN.TV news reporter Aleksandra Bliszczyk attended a testing clinic in Melbourne on Monday that was supposed to have a wait time of approximately 120 minutes. She ended up waiting almost 3.5 hours, and was informed that there were only four staff members on duty for a queue of hundreds.

Meanwhile, in NSW, things aren’t much better, with The Guardian reporting wait times of 2.5 hours before the state hit a new record of over 3,000 new COVID cases.

Soaliha Iqbal, news writer for PEDESTRIAN.TV, waited for 30 minutes at 11pm last night while attending a 24 hour testing site in Sydney. She was then told by staff that it would still be another two hours until she could be tested. She was encouraged to go home and then return around 1am, which she did. She still ended up waiting 30-40 minutes before being tested around 2am.

The Guardian also reported that the wait times for COVID test results in Sydney have been up to several days long, causing concern for those trying to travel interstate.

Sydney resident Samirah Ahmed told PEDESTRIAN.TV of the stress surrounding her scheduled flight from Sydney to visit her family in Queensland on Monday.

“We had an evening flight, and we didn’t receive our results until the morning of our flight. The test results took just over 48 hours, and it was very very stressful,” she said.

“I couldn’t get tested Friday night as we would have been outside the 72 hour window. Then we were left with the stress of having to wait 48 hours for results on the day of our flight, not knowing if we could travel or not”.

The Guardian reported that Sydneysider Nicolas Ronsmans had been waiting five days for his results, and he also cited the uncertainty as a major stressor.

“Initially it was meant to be 48 hours max, then they updated it to be 72 hours, to finally tell me, when I phoned the RPA dispatch, they said that it could take up to five days,” he said, per The Guardian.

“There’s no phone number you can call if the results haven’t come back yet. Everything and everyone will redirect you to the SMS number with automated replies as well as a web version of the same service.”

Ronsmans said the “day-to-day uncertainty”  was the worst part as he continually had to cancel plans.

“If I were positive I could at least prepare and unplan for the next two weeks,” he said.

Julia Thomas told The Guardian she had been waiting for over 72 hours for her results after being tested in St Ives on Friday.

“My partner got her results at 2am this morning,” she said on Monday.

“After 40 minutes on hold to the pathology hotline, apparently mine has been separated into another batch and I’m unlikely to get results until this evening, 80 hours after the test.”

In Adelaide, some people reported lining up for eight hours for a test as people queued over night.

It’s important to remember that while this is frustrating and totally cooked, it’s not the fault of frontline workers who are under a lot of pressure during a time where cases have skyrocketed and there’s more demand than they are capable of giving.

Instead, look to our federal and state governments, who clearly were underprepared for this inevitable surge in testing demand.