COVID-19: Experts issue warning to Kiwis to not become complacent about getting tested

Health experts are worried that COVID-19 could be spreading around the country as testing rates drop significantly. 

On Monday, just 5716 tests were completed which has prompted experts to issue a warning to Kiwis to not become complacent when it comes to testing.

The Ministry of Health revealed on Monday that the Hawke's Bay DHB only needed 192 more second doses to hit the 90 percent fully vaccinated milestone but testing is down with many people on summer break. 

In Cannons Creek just out of Wellington, a COVID testing centre had more nurses than patients on Monday, not ideal considering higher testing rates are needed to paint a clearer picture of Delta's spread.

"It really makes me worried," Ora Toa clinical director Dr Sean Hanna told Newshub. "It makes me worried there's undetected COVID in the community."

There are just 34 community COVID cases in New Zealand on Monday, nearly two weeks since Auckland opened its doors to the rest of the country.

Dr Hanna fears it's not a true reflection of case numbers because symptomatic people are not getting tested.

"The fact people are on holiday, I think people are maybe becoming a bit complacent and now is not the time to become complacent," Dr Hanna said. 

Testing numbers have been steadily dropping. 

On Monday, December 13, the seven-day rolling average was 26,117. A week later it had fallen to just under 21,812 and on Monday December 27 it had plummeted again to around 15,919.

"People who may be infected may not have symptoms are now travelling all around the country," epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker told Newshub. "The concern is this will spark additional outbreaks."

In Auckland, only 2249 people have been swabbed in the past 24 hours while in central Wellington it is also quiet on Monday. 

Experts are warning Kiwis not to get their hopes up over the low daily COVID tally.

"Particularly in the holiday period when people are moving about and may put off getting checked out if they have symptoms," Prof Baker said.

Testing rates at the Porirua site in Cannons Creek have been much lower than expected for the past two weeks. They've had just 12 people through before midday on Monday and people with even the slightest symptoms are being urged to get tested.

"Runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, don't put it off an extra 24 hours as people are used to doing before they see a doctor," Dr Hanna said. "Go and get tested straight away so we can pick up COVID straight away."

And while you might be prepared to wait in line for a Boxing Day bargain, you won't be waiting long for a COVID test.

Watch the fully sotry above.