20 Aug 2021

Record number of tests, but people urged to only get one if needed

9:00 pm on 20 August 2021

People are being urged to only get tested if they are a contact, visited a location of interest or have cold and flu symptoms.

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Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement testing centres in Auckland had their busiest day ever yesterday, by more than 50 percent.

"More than 24,000 community tests were performed across Auckland yesterday, with more than 8000 at community testing centres and around 16,000 at general practice and urgent care clinics," the ministry said in a statement.

A total of 27,899 tests were processed across New Zealand yesterday.

People have been waiting for hours in queues, some leaving after giving up, and others complaining about people queue-jumping.

The MOH reiterated its advice - to only to get tested if you are a contact, have visited a location of interest at the specific time and date as listed on the [www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/ healthpoint website], or have cold and flu symptoms.

"It is imperative we prioritise testing for these groups," the ministry said.

"The ministry thanks New Zealanders playing their part in complying with alert level 4, in getting a test and for their patience at sites while there is high demand.

"The ministry also thanks testing staff for stepping up again - these staff are working at pace at the frontline of our Covid-19 response, in high-stress environments, and making personal sacrifices to keep our communities safe."

It said police were helping with traffic control at testing sites.

Cars line up as people wait to be tested for Covid-19 at the Orchard Road drive-through testing centre in Christchurch

Cars line up as people wait to be tested for Covid-19 at the Orchard Road drive-through testing centre in Christchurch Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The number of Wellingtonians heading out to get tested for Covid-19 noticeably increased as three cases were announced in the capital.

People at the Taranaki Street testing site were anxious about cases being found in Wellington - acknowledging the low use of the Covid Tracer App in the city.

"Concerned, yeah, worried. I think I had a false sense of security that it was just in Auckland," one woman said.

"If you are going into a store and they have a scanner code in the window it literally takes three seconds out of your time to scan it ... I think every needs to get on board with that," another said.

A man suggested the government needed to introduce policy to ensure that scanning was being carried out by the public.

Health officials are ensuring there is enough additional testing capacity in Wellington if needed.

Meanwhile, anxious Aucklanders started turning up at testing centres in droves long before testing centres opened this morning.

One young man was waiting in line for the New Lynn testing centre after he had been at Bar 101 the same night as a Covid-19 positive case.

He had moved up the queue about 50 metres in about 60 minutes - and his friends yesterday had waited hours.

"A long wait but I brought snacks some drinks, downloaded some Netflix movies - I came prepared," he said.

People are urged to try to book in a test at their GP, or bring ID and their national health index number if they go to a community testing centre.

Testing sites

The MOH said there were 13 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland today, and all were open until 8pm. They included seven pop-up community testing centres at Narrow Neck, St Lukes, Wairau Valley, St Johns, Albany, Mângere East, and Pakuranga Heights.

"There is additional dedicated testing for Avondale College staff, students and whānau, who are considered to be close contacts.

"Additionally, around 2600 swabs have been taken onsite from Auckland City Hospital staff and all have been negative so far, following a fully vaccinated staff member working onsite while unknowingly potentially infectious with Covid-19."

Pop-up testing sites remain open in Coromandel Township, Thames, and Hamilton - and testing capacity has been increased.

Waikato DHB's laboratory processed nearly 2600 tests yesterday, which all returned negative results.

There are a range of testing sites in Wellington, and additional testing capacity is available if needed, the ministry said.

"All DHBs are ensuring there is good access to testing across the regions. Further locations, including in rural areas, are being actively considered for expanding the geographical spread of testing to help determine whether there has been any undetected transmission to date."

The total number of Covid-19 tests processed by laboratories to date is 2,612,235, with a seven-day rolling average of 9085.

In the Waikato, testing sites have been set up at Coromandel Town car park, Tokoroa's Memorial Sportsground, Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton and the Founders Theatre car park, also in Hamilton.

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