24 Apr 2020

Covid-19: People responding to PM's call to get tested

7:11 am on 24 April 2020

Record numbers of people have been turning up at some Covid-19 testing centres, many with the most minor of symptoms.

Biologists take samples by appointment from people with symptoms of Covid-19 without having to get out of their vehicles on April 6, 2020 in Saint-Nazaire, France.

Photo: AFP

The prime minister and health bosses told people last week to come forward for testing even if they had just a runny nose or a sore throat.

And most DHBs said people had responded, with a big increase in numbers for many.

A tester at Wellsouth's Invercargill clinic, Sue Wilson, said she had noticed the trend.

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"I think coming into the winter flu season people are more symptomatic as well so we have seen people just coming in with a minor, or a flu-like, or one symptom," she said.

Tauranga's community testing centre had had its biggest daily number through on Tuesday, at 311, its head of community-based health Joe Bourne said.

"I think this is a combination of people preparing for a change in the alert level next week and repeated messages to get swabbed with any symptoms at all," Dr Bourne said.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP

Waikato DHB said it's numbers on Tuesday were 30 to 40 percent higher than normal, and Nelson Marlborough said theirs had increased significantly as well.

In Tairāwhiti on the East Coast, mobile clinics had been out into small areas and settlements, with 89 people from the rural community of Te Araroa tested on Wednesday.

Total numbers across the region, at 1344, were more than double the week before, a spokesperson said.

In Hastings, the clinical director of the community testing centre, GP Peter Culham said, though they didn't have hard numbers, anecdotally more people had been arriving with mild symptoms.

"They saw this as good for themselves but also as part of ensuring cases didn't go undetected," he said.

Whanganui, Lakes and Northern DHBs all said they were seeing more people with very minor symptoms.

Several DHBs noted they would not test those who had no symptoms at all.

Not all DHBs responded to RNZ's request or were able to give an answer.

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