Coronavirus: Aucklanders face lengthy queues at testing stations after two people test positive

Cars snaked around COVID-19 testing stations on Auckland's North Shore for kilometres on Thursday after two people in the area tested positive for the virus.

A father and daughter duo are believed to have caught the virus from the Northland woman after all three stayed at the Pullman Hotel MIQ facility at the same time. They all have the more-infectious South African variant.

The father and young daughter duo then visited at least eight places on the North Shore, even though they'd been instructed to isolate at home, before receiving their positive results.

People who visited any of the locations of interest are asked to stay home, get tested as soon as possible, and call Healthline.

As a result, hundreds of people flocked to get tested.

One person told Newshub they had been waiting about two hours in the queue for a test, and a nurse who was also in line says she's hoping for swift results so she can return to work.

"The job I'm in, there's nobody else really to do my job, so if I'm not there, patients may not go home which isn't very good," she says.

There were at least 17 health workers working at one testing site, and to ease the congestion, they were forced to set up a second line for testing

Health authorities don't currently believe there's community transmission, but Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said earlier on Thursday they will know more on Friday.

"We will have a very good picture by this time tomorrow," he said.

Here's how all the recent cases are linked. 

The source of the spread was someone who tested positive at the Pullman on day three - they were immediately shifted to quarantine. 

This person is believed to have infected the Northland woman as they were just across the corridor from each other. The original case also infected the two Auckland cases - only they were on different floors.  

"It could be person to person, there could be surfaces involved," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said during a press conference.

"All of those possibilities, none of them are being discounted at this point."

Dr Bloomfield added one of the things they'd spoken about earlier was whether they used the lift at the same time.

The queues snaked around the testing centre.
The queues snaked around the testing centre. Photo credit: Newshub.

On Sunday, health officials asked all those who'd recently left the Pullman to isolate. But on Monday and Tuesday, the Auckland pair visited supermarkets, including a New World in Orewa.  

Since then, 13 close contacts have been identified and 5 have produced negative results. Hundreds of others are considered casual contacts. 

"We just had another crew from the DHB arrive, so we've got some nurses and administrators to help us out," The Fono chief operating officer Sally Dalhousie says.

The help is greatly needed in an area known for its large elderly population - some rest homes have closed to all visitors. 

"I'm sure that with this outbreak, and there's one right across the road here, that they have made sure that protocols are in place and people are safe," Hibiscus & Bays local board chairperson Gary Brown says.

One man made it his mission to ensure the wait for testing on the North Shore was slightly less arduous for those turning up - he dished out free hot coffee

"To them, they should be thanked. They're doing their part and we're all doing our part. So we just do what we can," local Phil Jervois Chemery says.

But looming large in the minds of those waiting at another site - the dreaded prospect of an alert level shift.

"Really concerned it will become a big community thing again. I don't think anyone wants another lockdown," local Emily Verhoeven says.