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Melbourne student’s long and expensive battle for COVID-19 test

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

As Mya Orr Deas stood alone outside an empty testing clinic on the outskirts of a Melbourne coronavirus hotspot suburb, her facemask fell damp with tears.

Exclusive - As Mya Orr Deas stood alone outside an empty testing clinic on the outskirts of a Melbourne coronavirus hotspot suburb, her facemask fell damp with tears.

The Victorian student had walked the 15 minutes from her Brunswick unit to get a COVID-19 test after her roommate, Catherine, tested positive. As a close contact, Ms Orr Deas wanted to follow health experts calls to get tested. She didn't count on a two-day ordeal.

"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,'" Ms Orr Deas told

"We were sharing the bathroom, kitchen, eating meals together, drinking coffee together."

An online search found Orr Deas' nearest testing clinics was a pop-up clinic at Gillon Oval or RMIT University.

When she arrived at the oval, she found no one in sight. When she tried the clinic at RMIT she was stopped by a sign which read 'COVID testing clinic closed'. A quick search found the clinic was supposed to be open '7 days a week 10am – 4pm.'

"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.

The person on the other end of the phone line advised Ms Orr Deas to catch a tram or Uber to the hospital. Neither sat well with her.

"Public transport is one of the highest contagious spaces and probably the worst place to be if you think you have coronavirus," she said.

"I didn't want to get in an Uber because I could potentially infect the driver or other passengers after me."

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As an asthmatic, she says she felt no choice but to wait until the following day to get tested.

"It's such an uncertain and anxiety provoking question – whether I have the virus or not?" she said.

She says the next day proved similarly fraught. She again arrived at an empty testing clinic at Gillon Oval and RMIT University. It was enough to drive her to breaking point.

"I started having a panic attack," she said.

"My fabric mask was getting soggy because of my tears."

With no open testing clinics within walking distance, no access to a car and wanting to avoid public transport, Ms Orr Deas was advised to visit a local doctor.

"I probably rang about 10 GPs, plus the hotline and Moreland City Council just to find somewhere to get a test," she said.

"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.

"I paid $35 out of pocket, as I did get some back on Medicare."

Thankfully for Ms Orr Deas, her COVID-19 test came back negative.

But Ms Orr Deas says, regardless of whether someone tests positive or negative to coronavirus, they shouldn't have to pay for a test during a global pandemic.

She says as a student, unemployed due to coronavirus, she was fortunate to afford it.

Distraught after her ordeal, she emailed Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew's office in the hope no one else feared with coronavirus would go through her experience.

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It wasn't until contacted Mr Andrew's office that a response was received.

A government spokesperson said the testing unit at Gillon Oval was only temporary as part of a suburban hotspot testing blitz and the RMIT Brunswick site was diverted for urgent testing at Flemington and North Melbourne public housing towers.

"We have 174 coronavirus testing sites across Victoria, as well as many local bulk-billing GP services offering tests to ensure all Victorians who need to be tested can do so quickly," the spokesperson told

"We're 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."

Victoria's coronavirus infections spiralled to its deadliest day yesterday, with 410 new cases and 21 people dead, easy access to testing should be the norm.

READ MORE: Victoria records eight more deaths, 278 new coronavirus cases today

"Victoria is currently seeing the highest number of positive coronavirus 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," Ms Orr Deas 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."

Source: 9News

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