Coronavirus: Auckland man waits hours at COVID-19 testing centre only to be told to leave four hours before it closed

An Auckland man queued for nearly two hours at a COVID-19 testing centre only to be told to leave four hours before it was scheduled to close and come back the following day.

Rajnil Sharma got into the queue at Waipareira Trust's Whānau House in Henderson, west Auckland at about 1:45pm on Wednesday.

But he says two hours later - and with more than four hours until 8pm, when the ARPHS website says the centre was scheduled to close - he was approached and told to go home as they didn't have time to test him.

Sharma says he wasn't far from the front of the queue when the message came through that the centre was closing, leaving him "frustrated".

"Also we could not even ask any questions to the wardens - not very helpful at all," he said.

The Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC), which runs Auckland's testing centres, did not comment on Sharma's specific experience.

However a spokesperson said traffic management and police at testing centres had been closing off queues to ensure testing teams had time to swab everyone already waiting before they closed at 8pm.

A queue of cars waiting at a testing centre on Wednesday.
A queue of cars waiting at a testing centre on Wednesday. Photo credit: Getty Images

They said some staff had experienced verbal abuse from people waiting to get a test.

"We understand people are anxious and that waiting can be hard but we want to remind people to please be kind. Our staff are working as hard and as fast as they can, and we are all in this together.

"People visiting a community testing centre can help speed up the paperwork that is part of the process by bringing ID (one for every person who is being tested) and having their NHI number (if they know it) ready to give to our staff."

The NRHCC said all 11 testing centres in Auckland were reporting wait times.

Wednesday was a record day for testing in Auckland, with more than 16,000 people swabbed - including more than 6000 people at testing centres and more than 10,000 at general practices, urgent care clinics and mobile testing units.

Demand remained high on Thursday, and by 4pm more than 4400 people had been swabbed at testing centres across Auckland.

On Wednesday and Thursday there were reports of queues spanning several kilometres at testing centres across the region following the emergence of 21 community COVID-19 cases and hundreds of potential exposure sites.

Newshub has heard numerous reports of people having waited several hours for a coronavirus test - with some being turned away when they near the front of the queue as centres close or reach capacity.

One Hamilton nurse, who had flu symptoms, said she waited from 11:50am to 6pm on Wednesday only to be told to go home when she reached the front of the queue.

Police on Thursday said there was "significant traffic congestion" near testing centres across Tamaki Makaurau, and advised the public to avoid the surrounding areas.

"Large queues of vehicles at these testing centres is causing traffic disruption for other motorists travelling past these locations," a spokesperson said.

"As a result, police are working with ATOC and traffic management plans are being put in place to ease this disruption.

"Any motorists travelling near locations in Auckland where there are testing sites are warned to expect some delays or to avoid the area if they are not travelling to the testing centres."