After being highlighted as known Covid-19 hotspots with known clusters and unlinked cases, how many people are actually getting tested in Auckland's seven "suburbs of interest?"
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday announced 45 new community cases of Covid-19 in Auckland, with the city in its seventh week of lockdown.
Yet that day, both the Ōtara and Clover Park Covid testing sites appeared to be near empty. While staff would not provide exact numbers, they said very few people were turning up to get swabbed.
The suburbs of interest are now Henderson, Papakura, Clover Park, Māngere, Favona, Manurewa and Mt Wellington/Sylvia Park.
They are areas with known clusters and unlinked cases.
A Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre spokeswoman said it had tested 12,974 residents from Auckland's suburbs of interest since last Monday, which equated to 7 percent of the 183,729 people living in the areas.
"We are casting a wide geographical net around the location of known clusters and unlinked cases," they said.
"We have set up pop-up testing centres in, or close to, suburbs of interest and sent out communications widely in those areas to encourage residents to attend the testing centres or their local GP or urgent care clinic."
The NRHCC spokeswoman said it couldn't provide a more detailed breakdown of how many people had been tested in each suburb, but said it had seen a good turnout at its testing centres in the areas of interest and it was pleased with the response so far.
"People from these suburbs with or without symptoms are encouraged to get tested to help us have a level of assurance that there is not undetected spread of Covid-19 in the community.
"People who don't have symptoms and get a one-off Covid-19 test for surveillance purposes do not need to isolate while they wait for their result. If you receive an invitation to get tested, even if you don't have symptoms, please get tested."
Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said in the past four weeks there has been low levels of transmission in south Auckland.
"And it appears to be quite hard to deliver public health measures in those marginalised communities," he said.
He said such areas often had people living in overcrowded conditions and higher levels of transitional and emergency housing.
Baker said despite the latest spike in numbers in Auckland it was too early to call it a trend.
"This is worrying, but it will take a couple of days to establish whether this is a new pattern for alert level 3," he said.
Increased door-to-door testing might be a more effective way to get an accurate idea of the scale of transmission.
"This comes down to what the strategy is for testing in those suburbs. In general, we've used pop-up testing to encourage people to come forward to get a test," Baker said. "I understand there's been a little bit of door-to-door testing, but not a lot."
On Tuesday last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for all Clover Park residents to get tested for Covid-19, whether they were symptomatic or not.
Ardern said there had been enough cases reported in the suburb to encourage officials to act.
Meanwhile, Mt Wellington/Sylvia Park was added to the suburbs of interest list on Thursday last week and all residents were also called on to get tested.
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