Dunedin testing centres facing 'extreme pressure'

Health officials and Dunedin's tertiary institutions are calling on people to get tested only if they fit the criteria as testing centres in the city face large queues and wait times.

This afternoon Central Dunedin experienced heavy traffic congestion as drivers queued for Covid-19 tests.

However, as of 4pm the bulk of the traffic was freely flowing through the city.

Earlier, a police spokesman said a report of backed up traffic has been received, which appears to be in relation to a testing centre.

Northbound traffic had been backed up on Cumberland St, from Queens Gardens to the Malcolm St testing station.

An ambulance was seen using its siren to force a path through two lanes of heavy traffic outside the Leviathan Hotel at about 2.30pm.

Elliot Weir, who had been passing by, said there was a large amount of traffic on the road and a temporary blockage occurred at the intersection of Cumberland St and Hanover St.

Cars moving north got stranded when the light turned red and other traffic tried to enter the intersection, they said.

The University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic shared a statement from Southern District Health Board amid "extreme pressure" on testing facilities in the South.

It called on people to only get tested if they have Covid-19 symptoms, which include a cough runny nose and sore throat, or if they have been asked by the hospital team, or public health.

It comes as 206 new community cases in the South were announced today by the Ministry of Health.

Both of Dunedin's testing centres, one in Malcolm St and one in Victoria Rd, have had long queues of people waiting to get swabbed today.

People wait in line for Covid testing near the University of Otago on Tuesday morning. Photo:...
People wait in line for Covid testing near the University of Otago on Tuesday morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

In the ministry's daily update today it emphasised the importance of the right people getting tested.

Over the last week, a significant number of concerned people who don’t need a test are going to get a test – those are people who don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms and are not a contact of a case, it said.

"People should only get tested if they have cold or flu symptoms, have been identified as a close contact of a case, or have been asked to get tested by a health official.

"We are anticipating continued high demand at our Covid-19 testing sites, so our request is to, please, be patient. Staff across the testing network are working tirelessly, to process tests and return results in a timely way. We would like to thank them for their recent mahi."

- additional reporting Oscar Francis