Winchelsea’s Globe Theatre repurposed for COVID-19 testing blitz

Winchelsea’s Globe Theatre has been used for children’s dance classes, movies and ‘old time dancing’ prior to the pandemic. But, this week, it’s being put to a different use – as a testing station for COVID-19.

“A hinterland option is important to protect rural communities and to help authorities understand how the virus is spreading,” says Frances Diver, Barwon Health Chief Executive. “Increased testing helps decision-makers plan how to ease restrictions in a way that protects our health system and keeps communities safe.”

People showing symptoms, however mild, can be tested indoors at the Globe Theatre between 9am and 3.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the next couple of weeks. A dedicated phone line is available for bookings on 0435 007 708, manned during testing hours.

The Winchelsea testing option joins other Surf Coast Shire drive-through testing sites at Lorne Community Hospital (open 9am-4pm seven days a week by appointment only, call 5289 4300) and Torquay Community Health Centre (open 9.00am – 5.30pm seven days a week, by appointment only, call 4215 7815), and others in the wider region, such as Barwon Health in Geelong and Colac Hospital.

The new Winchelsea pop-up testing site has been opened up because Surf Coast Shire has been identified among Local Government Areas with low testing rates. It’s part of a testing blitz by the Department of Health and Human Services, working alongside Surf Coast Shire Council, Barwon Health, and Lorne Community Hospital.

The campaign is expected to run for two weeks and is open mainly to shire residents but also school holiday visitors.

“Testing is available for any age – but children 0-5 years of age can be more complex to test, so they should attend the hospital testings only,” says Sandy Chamberlin, Great Ocean Road Health Chief Executive Officer. “It’s best to come to the testing site alone, unless you have a regular support person, or you’re taking children, but please don’t bring pets in the car with you if possible.”

“The test is free for everyone at these locations and takes around a minute to perform, then you’ll need to go directly home to self-isolate until results are back to you,” says Ms Chamberlin. “Diagnosing coronavirus early, even when symptoms are mild, helps to slow the spread and protect all Victorians – including yourself and your loved ones. We’re not through this pandemic yet.”

“As we have local travel in mind for the school holidays or to support Victorian tourism regions, it’s really important to be tested if you have any symptoms before you travel around the state and inadvertently spread the virus to vulnerable or small communities,” Says Surf Coast Shire mayor Rose Hodge.

Testing is currently available for people with the following symptoms, however mild: fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell.

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