COVID-19 Auckland: People deserve an explanation over unstaffed Albany testing centre - Phil Goff

People who queued for a COVID-19 test at an unstaffed pop-up clinic in Albany deserve an explanation, says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

At around 8am, at least 35 cars were waiting at the testing clinic, located in the carpark of Albany's North Harbour Stadium. However, there were no staff at the premises - leading to significant frustration as the queue continued to grow, with almost 50 cars lined up at the site by 8:10am. 

Newshub understands that security guards were under the impression the pop-up testing clinic opened at 8:30am - however, according to Healthpoint and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website, the station's opening hours are between 8am and 6pm this Thursday and Friday.

Speaking to The AM Show on Thursday morning, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he was aware of the issue and had sent out an urgent text, demanding to know why the testing station was unstaffed.

"I put a text through to say, 'What the hell is happening? We need the staff out there'," he said. "I sent it through my staff and they'll get in touch with the Auckland Regional [Public Health Service].

"I want to know why - as I'm sure all the people in the queue [do]."

A woman who had been queuing at the site for roughly an hour told Newshub the significant delay was frustrating.

"[I'm] not very happy when they said it would open at 8am," she said.

She claimed she rang Healthline on Thursday morning, however the service was unaware that the testing station was open.

Goff said to this knowledge, medical staff should have opened the clinic at 8am. 

"There's been some snaffle there [sic]… we need an explanation," he said.

"I understand [people's] frustration, absolutely. If I was spending hours in a car, that wouldn't be good enough… it's something we're asking questions about."

At around 8:30am, the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre told Newshub staff were on-site at 8am to open the testing station. 

However, Newshub understands that by 8:40am, no testing had been completed and the queues had not moved, with only two of eight staffers at the premises.

"You don't know and I don't know so I can't speculate on it, but what I do know is that the system - and the reports that I had from around Auckland yesterday - was working really well," Goff said.

On Wednesday night, it was announced that two people are being treated as confirmed cases of COVID-19 after they returned weak positive results. The individuals recently completed their 14 days of managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel, the same facility a Northland woman had stayed at before testing positive for the virus over the weekend. 

Preliminary genome sequencing suggests the two people have been infected with the more contagious South African variant of the virus, and are linked to the Northland woman. Serology results are expected on Friday. 

A number of locations visited by the individuals have been identified by health officials, primarily in the North Auckland suburbs of Orewa and Albany. People who visited these locations within certain time periods are asked to isolate and get tested. 

"Today with these two new cases - whenever you get the new cases, you get a huge surge of people. I hope the health authorities have taken that into account," Goff said.

"The reason to get tested is two-fold: one, if you're feeling ill and you've got the symptoms, absolutely. Two, if you've been at any of the places where any of these three cases have been, get tested. Don't get tested on, 'oh, maybe I'll just get tested', because that will put more pressure on the system."

Newshub has contacted the Auckland Regional Public Health Service for comment.