Government told to step up and help Northland's COVID-19 response

The Government is being called on to step up and provide more resources to Northland as the region grapples with the latest community case of COVID-19.

The 56-year-old woman who tested positive for the virus over the weekend had recently returned to New Zealand from overseas and quarantined at Auckland's Pullman Hotel. After finishing her two-week stint on January 13, the woman travelled around Northland and outer Auckland, visiting around 30 different locations including shops, cafes and pharmacies.

The Ministry of Health announced her positive test result on Sunday.

National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti told Newshub the community is in shock after the news and is taking precautions.

"A local motelier [told me]: 'we've gone straight to level 3 conditions here, do you think that's enough Shane or should we go to a level 4 while we are waiting?'"

An additional 17 COVID-19 testing centres were opened on Monday to manage the extra demand for tests - but it wasn't enough.

Some locals were waiting to get tested for over eight hours and many were left frustrated when sites closed mid-afternoon.

Newshub reporter Madison Reidy said the testing centres near Whangarei were "chaotic" on Monday with queues of hundreds of cars waiting for testing.

Dr Reti said some people are turning around from overwhelmed testing centres, leading to fears cases could be missed.

"I'm being called by people who are waiting in the lines, being text, explaining how long the lines are and unfortunately, explaining why they are turning around and going home."

He said the Government must step up and provide more resources.

Dr Reti's calls are echoed by a Northland iwi which described testing centres as inadequate.

"The call is for health officials to resource our testing stations and also inform our people that GPs are available for further testing for COVID-19," Ngatiwai Trust Board spokesperson Huhana Lyndon said.

Lyndon told Newshub there is a big gap in resources.

"We need more nurses and more admin staff in the testing stations further into the community, and also to know which GPs are available for COVID-19 testing."

The iwi said it has been contacted by many distressed and anxious people thinking they need to get tested. 

Lyndon said public health messaging needs to be clearer.

"Many vulnerable members of our community are worried about their health and wellbeing who are attending these testing stations who may actually be taking up spaces of people who are closer contacts."

The iwi wants more testing centres to be opened to meet demand.