Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Four hours for a COVID-19 test unacceptable


“Four hours is too long to wait for a COVID-19 test,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour, reflecting reports from his constituents.

“A constituent reports waiting for four hours to get tested for COVID-19 at the St Lukes Community Based Assessment Centre in Auckland.

“How is this possible? It is not as though testing is new. The Prime Minister was repeating the mantra ‘test, test, test’ in March. Three months later we still don’t seem to have it right.

“The four hour delay gives rise to serious questions. If we are to contain any possible outbreaks, then we need people to get tested.

“People already face poor incentives to be tested. Some people can’t afford to be taken out of action for two weeks by a positive test. Making them wait four hours makes it worse. How many people in the queue that day simply turned around after a few hours and went home, potentially spreading the virus?

“If people can’t be easily tested, we have no hope of containing an outbreak. Without competent public health measures, New Zealanders risk blunt and punitive measures. The borders stay all but closed and we could even go up alert levels.

“ACT has long said the Government should be clear about the data. What is the average wait time for a test? Most businesses that are involved in serving large numbers of customers measure and manage wait times very carefully. They understand that wait times affect customer engagement. Does the Government know?

“How many people call who a helpline, like my constituents did, are recommended to get a test, and how many of them show up to be tested?

“An open and transparent Government would be able to answer such questions. I fear this one can’t, at a great cost to all of us.”