Coronavirus: COVID-19 cases in Auckland sees testing centres swamped

By Liu Chen for RNZ

Clinicians are wading through a flood of COVID-19 tests, in the hope that Auckland can move out of alert level 3 by Wednesday night.

Testing centres have been swamped and close to 4000 community swabs were taken in Auckland from Sunday to Monday night.

Auckland moved to level-3 lockdown and the rest of the country to level 2 after three people from a household in the south Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe tested positive to the UK variant of the virus.

On Monday, one woman was disappointed when she was turned away from a pop-up testing centre at Papatoetoe High School about closing time, after having already been turned away from the community testing centre in Ōtara.

She said the family attended the same church as a staff member of a supermarket the positive cases had visited, and she was worried about her daughter's health.

"Since she's got the symptoms, she's got a blocked nose and a sore throat, so we thought it's better to have a test," she said.

At the Ōtara testing centre, dozens of cars were still queueing as the facility neared closing time.

Imraaz Ali and his family, who had been waiting for three hours, said his son attended Papatoetoe High School and was regarded as a casual contact, so the family was advised to get a test.

"I'm a bit concerned because I'm a school teacher as well. I have been advised by my principal to get tested before I come to school."

He is worried about a community outbreak and said he would be more vigilant about using the COVID-19 tracer app.

"I'll be frank, I've been using it but not most of the time, but now I realise the importance of using it all the time."

Darryl Hook, 65, had also been waiting in line for hours.

"I went to a couple of places on Saturday that came up on that list, but not at the same time, but with my age, I thought I'd just double-check. My firm told me to go and get a check."

He said it was worrying that this was the new UK variant and he hoped the lockdown did not extend and upset family plans.

"We've taken it for granted, I think a lot of us. Even I have been slacking. We've just coasted along and hadn't been scanning. I think a lot of us have learned. I'll be doing it now - scanning."

Meena Kumar has no reason to think she had had contact with the cases but came to get tested after feeling unwell.

"Because I have been sick from last Friday and it's still continuing to be there. It's not getting any better ... so I thought to have a check if I'm not affected by COVID," she said.

Another man, who came with his three cousins, said they came along because they lived close to Papatoetoe High School and wanted to rule out a positive diagnosis.

"We just wanted to come and get it tested here to make sure we're not [COVID positive]."

Northern Region Health Coordination Centre said an additional community testing centre would open in Takanini on Tuesday. Demand for testing would be monitored closely and capacity would be further increased if needed.

Auckland testing site locations and hours are available on the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website.