Covid-19 testing centres closed

A milestone in the South’s fight against Covid-19 has been reached.

WellSouth’s community-based assessment centres (CBACs) in Dunedin and Invercargill closed yesterday, after nearly three months, joining the Queenstown centre which closed on May 11.

A single test was carried out at the Dunedin centre yesterday, one of more than 3350 tests since its opening on March 20.

WellSouth clinical services manager Sharron Feist said a decline in demand for testing, coupled with increased capacity at GPs, meant the Cumberland St centre, owned by the Southern District Health Board, would be mothballed.

"We’re packing up everything on display, but not taking walls of the pods down.

"If we do need to pop up and do a CBAC again we can do so very quickly."

WellSouth general manager Sharron Feist celebrates the mothballing of the community-based...
WellSouth general manager Sharron Feist celebrates the mothballing of the community-based assessment centre. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The closure was emotional for staff, she said.

"It’s been a long 13 weeks, especially for the staff that have been involved from early on.

"The team are quite excited having it come to a close. We’ve done superbly in New Zealand around Covid-19."

The dozens of staff came from all different walks of life, including IT and administration, and were looking forward to a return to normal life, Mrs Feist said.

No staff caught Covid-19, a "testament to the processes in place".

About 40% of the 18,000 tests in the Southern region were in assessment centres.

As well as the centres, 10 "pop-up" CBACs were set up around the South over the past three months and 1800 tests were taken in a bid to identify undetected spread.

None tested positive.

GPs would carry out all future testing and anyone with symptoms was encouraged to call Healthline or phone 0800 VIRUS19.

Designated practices around the region were lined up to test unenrolled patients or patients unable to go to their own GPs.

The WellSouth CBAC plan was used as an example of community testing for other health districts nationally and was shared by the Ministry of Health with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

"We’re very proud of what’s been done here," Mrs Feist said.


Well done, as I know from personal experience how wonderfully well you worked to help all of us get clear of the COVID-19. Thanks so much for all your great service!



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