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Marshall rules out calling out ADF to COVID-19 testing sites

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UPDATED: Premier Steven Marshall says there are no plans to call on Australian Defence Force personnel to help out at Adelaide’s swamped COVID-19 testing sites, after Police Commissioner Grant Stevens earlier today raised the option while conceding hours-long waits and huge queues were a “disincentive”.

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With testing queues at the city’s Victoria Park testing site reaching up to a reported nine hours overnight and other sites similarly swamped yesterday, Stevens told reporters before this morning’s transition committee meeting that he had spoken to SA Health chief executive Chris McGowan to “identify what we can do to provide additional (support) to them so they can deal with these”.

“I do know that they’ve put additional resources into SA Pathology in anticipation of an increased load,” he said.

“But I don’t know that you would necessarily have foreseen that we would have such significant numbers of people attending the testing, and I need to be more informed about what’s happening with their booking system as well.”

Asked whether the queues were a disincentive for people to come forward for testing, Stevens said: “Absolutely.”

“I think if you’re realistic about this, knowing that you’re facing a waiting time of several hours would be a disincentive,” he said.

“But we seem to see people doing the right thing, notwithstanding that.”

Stevens also said authorities were considering calling in the Australian Defence Force “depending on whether they can provide the sort of resources that actually make a difference”.

“Sometimes it’s not about arms and legs, it’s having the right skill set,” he said.

“So they’re the sorts of questions we’re asking.”

The ADF was called in to boost South Australia’s testing capacity during the July lockdown when daily swabs passed more than 20,000 a day.

SA Health reported 20,223 tests conducted on Sunday.

“I understand the community frustration of people who are trying to get a test, but the fact that we have such significant lines at our testing stations I think is evidence of the fact that the community are genuinely willing to do the right thing,” Stevens said.

“I just applaud their patience for the time they’re spending in these queues.”

But at a later press conference to announce the easing of testing requirements for interstate arrivals to take the pressure off Adelaide testing sites, Marshall said calling on the ADF was not being considered.

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