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Covid-19: No symptoms, no test

Jessica Dermody
Line of cars at Orchard Road waiting for Covid-19 test.
People line up in their cars on Orchard Rd waiting for a Covid-19 test.   Jessica Dermody

Work places need to stop telling staff to get tested as it's causing major waiting times at Covid-19 testing sites.

The huge demand for Covid-19 testing in Canterbury continues, following this week's announcement of a new community transfer cluster in Auckland. 

Emergency Operations Centre manager Deborah Callahan said there were not enough testing kits nor capacity at testing sites to cater for people, who did not meet the criteria for a "case definition".

The Ministry of Health states a case definition is when a person has a new or worsening cough, a sore throat, shortness of breath, a head cold or anosmia (loss of smell).

Callahan said one of the reasons for long wait times at Covid-19 stations in Canterbury was work places encouraging staff to get tested. 

"We are asking employers not to send staff, who do not meet the case definition (for a test). This has been happening (on Thursday) and is increasing wait times for people who have symptoms and need to be tested."

On Friday morning, a long line of cars can be seen waiting at the Orchard Rd testing site near the airport. 

About 150 cars could be seen on Thursday at the Pages Rd testing site. Those at the front of the line had been waiting longer than three hours. 

A woman who wished to be identified as Elyse, said she had been waiting for about four hours and was "confused" by the testing process. She said she didn't know if there any other Covid-19 test sites in Christchurch. 

People could be seen asleep in their cars while waiting at Pages Rd.

Callahan said 1800 people were tested in Canterbury on Wednesday, with the majority being at the community-based testing facilities. 

"More than 5000 test kits have been distributed across the system in Canterbury since (Wednesday), including 2000 swabs to general practice," Callahan said.

She said more than 100 general practice facilities in Canterbury were offering tests, but they did not hold large stocks of testing kits, rather working to a "restocked as required" system. 

"As far as we are aware general practices have sufficient testing kits for the moment."

Currently, Covid-19 tests are offered at 250 Pages Rd 9-5pm, 174 Orchard Rd from 9-4pm, 28 Elizabeth St, Ashburton (hospital site) 10am-2pm, and general practices. 

Line of cars at Orchard Road waiting for Covid-19 test.
Line of cars at Orchard Road waiting for Covid-19 test. Jessica Dermody