COVID-19: Concern over Government's testing blitz target as demand drops

Testing demand for COVID-19 has dropped in Auckland with workers concerned the Government's goal of testing 70,000 people by next week is too big.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have been encouraging the public to get tested for coronavirus.

"Say yes to the test, we keep saying that over and over again," said Hipkins.

Pop up testing centres were created outside churches, school car parks, rugby stadiums, and town centres with thousands of Kiwis flocking to them when New Zealand's south Auckland cluster was announced.

But since then demand has dropped to little over a 100 a day, with one station on Wednesday only testing 15 people by late afternoon. 

"I don't know why people don't come and get tested. The more we get rid of this, the better we are so we can open up and have a good time," south Auckland local Douglas Allen told Newshub.

"Don't be worried and stay home, get this thing up your nose and come out."

The clinical lead at Mangere COVID-19 testing station Joe Glassie-Rasmussen says people are now coming in for testing in "dribs and drabs".

But the Government's set a target of wanting to test 70,000 people a day in Auckland over the next seven days and they're relying on people showing up.

Glassie-Rasmussen says she's struggling to believe they'll get close.

"It is going to be challenging each day to get that number though with the amount of testing we're doing each day."

Kathleen Mariu, the lead nurse at Mt Smart COVID-19 testing station, agreed.

"I think it's a big goal. I think a lot of people have become complacent."

But on Wednesday, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said they still believe the target is an achievable goal.

"I don't have any sense there'll be a lack of willingness for people turning up for testing, it's making sure it's available and that they know about it," Dr Bloomfield said.

Chris Hipkins also moved to reassure Pacific Island overstayers that immigration officials won't be following up if they get a COVID-19 test.

"We do not want anybody who's at risk, and who may potentially have COVID to not get a test, and not come to our attention, because they're worried about their immigration status," he said.

They are asking Kiwis to come out in the thousands to get tested and protect the team of 5 million.