Thousands of New South Wales residents face starting the final day of 2021 in queues for COVID-19 tests or waiting for results as the state awaits another expected large jump in cases.

NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT have woken up to new close contact and testing rules.

But even with the changes introduced overnight, yesterday’s ​​12,226 new cases could be expected to produce thousands of close contacts among family members and housemates.

At one testing station on Thursday queues started at 3am and by 8am the car park was jammed, snaking out onto a main road.

PCR testing.
PCR testing queues have been growing. (Getty)

At another, cars started lining up at midnight and by the time the testing station opened at 8am the line stretched hundreds of metres.

Some testing stations reached capacity in the morning, turning away people who had waited for hours.

However, lines have proved shorter first thing this morning.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has spent days trying to reverse months of pandemic messaging in an attempt to get the worsening queues under control.

Thursday’s National Cabinet meeting should significantly aid that fight by redefining who is considered a close contact, requiring testing, and officially directing the majority of people towards cheaper, faster rapid antigen tests instead of PCR assays.
St George Hospital has opened another COVID-19 ward. (Steven Siewert)

One large Sydney hospital has opened an extra ward to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases as thousands of New South Wales residents continue to test positive every day.

A spokesperson for South Eastern Sydney Local Health District said St George Hospital could now treat 40 patients after Thursday’s expansion to its capacity.

They said 30 COVID-19 patients were hospitalised, with six in intensive cate.

“Preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases is standard procedure across all major public hospitals in NSW and the District has previously taken similar actions throughout the pandemic,” the spokesperson said, in a statement.

“Our comprehensive COVID-19 plans also include redeploying staff if and when necessary. Most people with COVID-19 are able to self manage at home. 

“NSW Health has worked closely with clinicians to develop guidelines to help people manage COVID-19 at home.”

Source: 9News

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