23 Jun 2020

Plans to close testing centres thwarted by new cases

10:07 am on 23 June 2020

Plans to close Wellington's Covid-19 community testing centres this week have been ditched amid the rising number of overseas cases.

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File photo. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Doctors said there had been a big surge in demand since the first two new border cases last week.

The centres, known as CBACs, were created to be an easy, efficient place to get swabbed at the height of the outbreak but many smaller centres have now wound theirs up.

Karori GP and chair of General Practice NZ, Jeff Lowe, runs a small community testing centre said he was pleased with the decision to keep them operating.

His practice had been swabbing about six people a day before last week's new cases.

They were now swabbing up to 50, he said.

"We're seeing two things now. We're seeing coughs and colds starting to appear in general practice and, with these border breaches, we're seeing confidence has been shaken as well," he said.

"To gain that confidence again we're needing to see high levels of swabbing."

Dr Lowe said he was considering reopening a dedicated testing centre on another site because his clinic had been so busy again.

Porirua GP and medical director of the College of GPs, Bryan Betty, said it was good to see the community centres sticking around.

They helped to take the pressure off the GP clinics which would have had to take up all testing.

"Having CBACs open relieves pressure in what is a very, very, busy time for frontline practice in winter," he said.

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