For unemployed Melbourne student Mya Orr Deas, it took two days, ten phone calls and $75 to get a COVID-19 test under the capital’s strict lockdown.
Ms Orr Deas recounted the 48-hour ordeal to 9 News, after her roommate, Catherine, tested positive for coronavirus – which has infected more than 15,800 Victorians since the pandemic began and sent Melbourne back into a harsh stage four lockdown.
“Once Catherine’s results came back, I was thinking ‘while I don’t know whether I have coronavirus, I am going to assume I have it,’” she told the publication.
“We were sharing the bathroom, kitchen, eating meals together, drinking coffee together.”
After researching where her nearest clinic was, Ms Orr Deas set off to get tested – but when she arrived at Gillon Oval, closest to her Brunswick unit, nobody was there. And when she tried the other clinic closest to her home, at RMIT University, was found a sign that read the clinic was closed – despite online saying it was open “7 days a week 10am – 4pm”.
RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage
“Once I came home, I rang the coronavirus hotline and they told me the closest testing clinic open was at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, which is about a one-hour walk,” she said, adding she was advised to catch a tram or Uber to the clinic.
“Public transport is one of the highest contagious spaces and probably the worst place to be if you think you have coronavirus,” Ms Orr Deas said, adding an Uber was equally as dangerous because she could “potentially infect the driver or other passengers after me”.
After making the decision to try and get tested the next day, Ms Orr Deas said it provided an equally as “uncertain and anxiety provoking” experience, arriving once again to empty testing clinics at both the oval and RMIT.
“I started having a panic attack. My fabric mask was getting soggy because of my tears,” she said.
Without access to a car and no open testing clinics within walking distance, she was forced to ring “about 10 GPs, plus the hotline and Moreland City Council just to find somewhere to get a test”.
“I finally found a GP in the area that was testing, but it cost me $75 – I was in there for two minutes to get the test and it cost me $75,” she said.
And while her result was – thankfully – a negative one, Ms Orr Deas said nobody during the pandemic should have to pay for a test, prompting her to contact Premier Daniel Andrew’s office in the hopes a similar experience could be prevented for someone else.
“Victoria is currently seeing the highest number of positive cases since the beginning of this pandemic, yet it has taken me two days, $75, almost 10 phone calls and a great level of inconvenience to access a test,” she said.
“Right now, there is not enough options to do the right thing, testing is not accessible, especially if you don’t have a car, it is really hard. It would have been easier to have just given up and not bothered.”
A spokesperson for the State Government told nine.com.au they were “looking at a number of ways to ensure people who need testing – including immunocompromised people and those who may already be unwell – can access tests without travelling to a clinic”.