Coronavirus: Second round of border worker testing off to bad start with just 200 tested at ports

Newshub can reveal the second round of testing of our border workers is off to a bad start with just 200 of about 10,000 port workers tested so far.

In just one fortnight, there were 80,000 movements through our sea ports - 10,000 workers - and getting them tested has been slow.

"We've seen good testing numbers coming out of the airport, good testing numbers coming out of the managed isolation and quarantine, slightly slower to ramp up again for a second time at the ports and we did see this the first time around," Health Minister Chris Hipkins told The AM Show on Tuesday.

Not just slightly.

"It's about 300 or 400 so obviously we've got a way to go there to get those numbers up," Hipkins said.

Newshub can reveal it's actually far worse.

Figures provided by the Ministry of Health show 5218 port workers were tested in the first sweep of workforce testing and only 208 port workers have been tested in the second round, leaving 5000 to be tested by Sunday.

"Sounds like another broken promise," National Party leader Judith Collins said on Tuesday.

Hipkins says he's seeking answers. 

"I've just been asking questions about that, because those numbers are lower than they are for managed isolation and for the air border, just to make sure there is a plan in place," he said.

Port workers were the last cab off the rank in the first round of testing. The Government struggled to set up testing sites. It put them at the back of the queue for round two. 

The Ministry of Health said in a statement some will spill over into next week. 

"The second round of testing is to be completed by 11:59pm 6 September.  For those that were tested right at the end of the first round, they will get a test  next week."

The Government is now looking at more permanent testing facilities at our ports.

Hipkins doesn't think the sea border is a blindspot for the Government but he admitted that it was.

"No it isn't, I think it has been previously in the sense that it took longer to get the testing regime and protections up in place."

Later this week the Government will finally release a detailed list of which border workers pose the biggest risk and determine how frequently they should be tested. Those deemed high risk will be submitted to weekly testing.

But issuing a ministerial order is one thing. Getting the tests done has been the real problem and judging by the testing numbers at the ports it continues to be.