Monday, 15 February 2021

Daily saliva tests should be mandatory, starting now

“The Government’s failure to roll out regular saliva testing for border and managed isolation workers highlights the problem with its centralised control-all response to COVID-19,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Rather than a voluntary system for saliva testing it should be made mandatory for all workers subject to the existing COVID-19 Public Health Response testing orders to have a daily saliva test, whether they’re public or private employees.

“We’ve already seen the Government’s voluntary rollout delayed because resources were diverted to deal with the Pullman incident, proving for the umpteenth time that this Government can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

“Meanwhile, as ACT has been saying all along, if the Government would only suspend its suspicion of the private sector long enough to help it cooperate the response to COVID-19 could be so much better.

“Private businesses like Auckland Airport have grown tired of waiting for the Government and are already doing high frequency saliva testing of their own staff.

“But once again we have the Prime Minister making excuses for poor performance, this time claiming saliva testing’s lower efficacy than nasal swabs is a reason for not being too fussed about the delays.

“That flies in the face of the highly critical Simpson-Roche report on failures in border testing, which recommended regular saliva testing.

“Meanwhile, across the Tasman it has been compulsory in phases since December last year for Police officers, healthcare staff, non-Police security staff and all hotel staff in MIQ facilities to have a saliva test per shift.

“ACT has been saying for months now that our response to COVID-19 can’t be just about the Government, we must embrace partnerships with the private sector, focusing on continuous improvement and better use of technology.

“Once again New Zealand has come up short at the border. Events of the past 24 hours are proof that swift change to our approach is required.”