“The Government has misled New Zealanders about its COVID-19 testing capacity and needs to take urgent steps approve more tests,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The union representing lab workers has said capacity has already been reached and some people won’t receive results at all.

“Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall told New Zealanders last month that 58,000 tests could be carried out each day with a surge capacity of 77,000. She now needs to explain why we’ve already reached capacity when daily testing numbers are nowhere near that high.

“Association of Professional and Executive Employees (APEX) national secretary Dr Deborah Powell has gone as far as saying those claims from Government are “appalling.”

“This situation was foreseen by ACT. As I wrote in a column on January 14:

“Testing won’t keep pace with infections, whether it’s nasopharyngeal, saliva, or rapid antigen. The Government’s record for testing is about 40,000 a day, reached only a couple of times. If there are 100,000 true cases per day, testing as we know it won’t work. Contact tracing lost the scent of Delta in ‘hard to reach’ communities, so we can write off tracing Omicron right away.

“The rest of the world is scrambling for Rapid Antigen Tests, but at least their governments didn’t first ban importing them then approve only four types. We should allow any of the 65 approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Authority to be imported from tomorrow. It should just bury its futile vindictive spat with Rako Science and ask ‘how many saliva tests can you do from tomorrow?’”

“This remains as true today as it did over a month ago. The Government needs to automatically approve rapid antigen tests as available in similar jurisdictions and contract companies like Rako Science.

“I’m hearing daily from people that their test results have been ‘delayed 72 hours’. One person tested on February 12 told me this morning they still don’t have their result. If they were infected, they’ll have recovered now anyway.

“Just this week the Ministry of Health sent 2,000 RATs destined for an Auckland high school back to Australia because it hadn’t approved them, despite them being approved in Australia and having a higher efficacy rate than it requires.

“It’s time for Government to stop misleading us about its testing capacity and be open to other forms of testing and technology. Our hardworking lab workers deserve better and so do all New Zealanders.”