COVID-19: Auckland mother, children potentially exposed to community cluster asked to pay for test

A concerned mother from a young Auckland family says although they are showing COVID-19 symptoms and are possibly connected to the community cluster, they were asked to pay for a test at their local GP when they should be free.

To'aono Taula, who is currently four months pregnant and has three children aged three, four and five years old, says it added pressure to her already stressed family.

"It was really frustrating [being told to pay for a test]. I'm actually four months pregnant right now and I have three kids that are also showing symptoms," she told Newhsub.

"Sometimes we don't have that kind of money. $20 could go to either our food or doctors. It's kind of hard for us."

Taula says her symptoms started off with just a sore throat last weekend, but then grew to sneezing, a runny nose and coughing throughout the rest of the week. Her three children have shown similar symptoms, but now just have strong chest coughs. They weren't tested for COVID-19 since they're all aged five or under.

"We're kind of just keeping an eye on them and just hoping it's just a normal cold and not the coronavirus."

She says family members have had contact with the Southern Cross Campus school case, and her household was at a family event in Papatoetoe last weekend. After that, her household all started showing symptoms, but she still doesn't know if a family from the known cluster was at the event.

Her family members who had possible contact with the Southern Cross case have come back negative, she says, and they're just waiting on four more results from that bubble.

"There may have been some church members from the [Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Māngere East] Puaseisei church. We're still waiting to hear if there was anyone there at the event."

A family in this church's congregation has tested positive for COVID-19.

"We're just nervous. We're kind of just waiting, but we didn't want to wait until it comes through the media that we have to go and get tested - we wanted to get it done as soon as we could," Taula says.

After being told at her doctor's visit she had to pay for a test, she waited until she could visit her local pop-up testing clinic in St John's, eastern Auckland, on Sunday. She says she lined up first thing and was relieved to have a test.

"I'm so happy that we've got it out of the way - just waiting now."

Local city councillor Josephine Bartley says people have been forced to pay for a doctor's visit in order to be tested for COVID-19.

Bartley, who represents the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki ward which includes St John's, says her community has been overlooked because it is not considered south Auckland.

"We still have a large number of Pasifika and Māori communities in our area, and they've had to go outside our area to access testing. Some have even been referred to Botany, so it's so important we have this testing station here," she told Newshub.

The Auckland Netball Centre in St Johns is being used for free testing.