Coronavirus: Taranaki health workers plead for more clinics as they struggle with COVID-19 testing demand

Health workers in Taranaki are struggling to keep up with a growing backlog of COVID-19 tests after two positive cases visited the region.

They're calling for a pop-up testing station to be set up to help with demand.

Staff at Waitara Health Centre are getting ready to test, test, test - it is the only COVID-19 testing centre in the north Taranaki town.

Tania Chamberlain, the clinic's general manager, says it's busier now than it was during the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.

"We did 52 swabs yesterday and we have 50 booked for today."

The clinic has had to turn people away and re-book them for another day as demand skyrocketed following news two positive COVID cases visited the region.

"I don't know if we will catch up as such, but certainly we will just keep doing as many as we can," says Chamberlain. 

The advice is simple: get tested if you're symptomatic or you visited a location of interest at the same time as the cases.

Many of those tested at the clinic have been asymptomatic.

In the neighbouring township of Opunake, Esme Eastment is the sole COVID-19 tester.

She's only just keeping up with demand.

"It's been a little bit stressful, but at the end of the day you just have to tuck your head down and get on with it," she told Newshub. 

Health workers have told Newshub they want a pop-up testing centre set up to alleviate anxiety in the community and lessen the load on clinics.   

But Taranaki DHB's chief medical advisor, Dr Greg Simmons, is satisfied with the current testing capacity. 

"At this stage a pop up centre is not considered to be required in Taranaki."

But some people were turned away from this queue outside Taranaki Base Hospital on Monday, only to return early on Tuesday to try again.

That line was much shorter on Tuesday afternoon, with people in Taranaki perhaps comforted by the fact the region's had no positive results so far.