COVID-19: Government considers random surveillance testing at known hotspots as swab sites reveal they have capacity to do more

Two major testing sites in Auckland say they have the capacity to do a lot more COVID-19 swabs and urge anyone - even those without symptoms - to come forward. 

It comes as the Government considers random surveillance testing at known virus hotspots. 

Every COVID-19 test completed could crack the mystery of undetected transmission. Five hundred tests per day at the Whānau Ora station in Wiri is considered a good day, site leader Rico Tua says.

"It's high enough but we wish we could keep those numbers rolling every day because, today, it doesn't look like we're going to get anywhere near 500."

Those turning up on Tuesday were a mix of those who visited locations of interest, essential workers who required a test and those just turning up because they live in a suburb of concern. 

"Thought I better come down and get tested mainly to safeguard my wife and my workmates as well," Auckland resident Pete Hunia told Newshub.

"I travel out of the borders every day for Linfox. So we go up and down the country every day six days a week, so we got to get tested weekly," said Vern Nathan, another resident.

"We thought we'd just drive down and have a test," Aucklander Lavesi Tupe said. "It doesn't hurt us but it keeps us safe." 

There are currently 133 locations of interest. But this testing blitz isn't just about targeting people who have been to locations of interest.

In Ōtara, even people who are asymptomatic are being asked to come forward.

There were 7800 tests in Auckland in the past day - but it's not high enough. 

"We have the resources to do more," Ōtara testing site lead Michelle Tukia said. "We accept anyone that wants to come through for a test, we'll test them."

Tua pointed out that access to dedicated testing sites can be a challenge. 

"There's quite a few that don't have vehicles or some of them that can't afford to get into a testing station."

Whānau Ora has mobile testing teams - but they're busy. 

"Sometimes our rapid response team goes from 8am to 8pm just visiting people's houses," Tua said.

Auckland's various district health boards are overseeing the response to the Auckland outbreak, but no one was available to be interviewed about whether such a mobile service needed to be expanded. 

A spokesperson told Newshub they're seeing "good" testing numbers and were using social media and print advertising campaigns to encourage people to get tested while working alongside Pasifika and Māori health providers.  

The other place experts say should be focussed on are supermarkets. Countdown Manurewa has been a location of interest on five occasions and Pak'nSave Manukau has been a potential exposure site six times. The Ministry of Health says it has "no plans" to test shoppers randomly at such sites although the Prime Minister's keeping an open mind.

"We'll ask the question about the Pak'nSave because it's a good question to ask," Ardern told reporters on Tuesday. "Let's consider everything and certainly, supermarkets have been on our agenda."