Coronavirus: Anxious Kiwis say Healthline wait times creeping past 4 hours

People who are sick and worried they have COVID-19 say they can't get through to Healthline for help.

Newshub has been contacted by several people waiting hours or not getting through at all.

The Government says it's working on it but Healthline is still struggling to keep up with demand.

Suffering a dry cough, fever and struggling to breath, asthmatic Elysia Paton became so concerned she called Healthline.

"I was 111 in the queue and got down to about 67 before I got disconnected from them," she told Newshub.

"I rang back straight away only to be 110 in the queue again, I got down to number five in the queue - only to be disconnected again sitting at number five in the queue."

Nearly four hours on the phone, sick with no answers and no test.

"If they're only testing COVID-19 for people who are mainly coming in from overseas then our results aren't going to be accurate for community outbreak, if I had it, or have it?"

For Chelsey Seth, who's also self-isolating, it's been a similar situation.  Asthmatic, feverish and coughing but couldn't get help.

"I was told that I was 150th in the queue. All in all I probably spent on hold with Healthline about four or five hours."

She was struggling for breath and struggling for a test.

"Because I wasn't showing all of the symptoms or I hadn't been in contact directly with someone who had been tested positive for COVID-19. I broke down in tears."

Healthline has fielded more than 100,000 calls so far this month - already five times that of March last year.

It has brought in 300 more staff and added four more call centres.

And the Government says it's getting better.

"We're continuing to increase the capacity at Healthline and what I have just been told is that the average waiting time yesterday was 30 minutes," said director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 

The message is, if you need health advice do call, but please be patient.

The dedicated Healthline number is 0800 358 5453.