Pop-up pulls crowds in Queenstown

"Absolutely amazed."

So impressed was Well South chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs after a Queenstown pop-up Covid-19 testing centre completed more than double its planned daily tests — a total of 1050 swabs.

The Pak’nSave car park centre opened ahead of schedule yesterday as the Queenstown public lined up.

"Making the first 100 by 9 o’clock was a bit scary, but to finish the day with 1050 tests being completed is just impressive.

"I just want to thank the people of Queenstown and the health professionals of the region who have turned up today to make this happen."

Initially, the pop-up had planned for just 350 swabs. However, more were retrieved at lunchtime from local health clinics.

Two healthcare workers swab a man in his car. PHOTO: HUGH COLLINS
Two healthcare workers swab a man in his car. PHOTO: HUGH COLLINS

Results from the tests would be known in 48 hours and participants would be called.

Mr Swanson-Dobbs said the pop-up followed a weekend conversation with the Ministry of Health about increasing the number of swabs done in the region.

"And the answer was can you please do another pop-up in Queenstown."

At the start of July, a man visited Queenstown who had since tested positive for Covid-19 in South Korea.

Peter Greer, a skipper on TSS Earnslaw, stopped by for a swab. His job meant constantly mixing with people from out of town.

"I’m always having people coming up to the bridge and saying hi ... so I mix with a lot of tourists, people going all over the place. So I thought it was probably best to have a go."

"In fact I was surprised when the first lot of tests went through that I hadn’t picked up something. Lucky, I suppose."

Local woman Elizabeth Smith felt people needed to be more wary of the ongoing global situation.

"I think if we can give more data and help them to understand if there’s any community tracing, fine, let’s do a few random checks like this."

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult got a test from his vehicle.

"I think it’s a responsible thing to do, I think it’s a great insurance policy," Mr Boult said.

Manager of Southern Community Laboratories Queenstown Lisa Cassels said the pop-up aimed to give local people the "reassurance" about whether there was Covid-19 in the community.

"No-one’s expecting any positive results. But it’s really important that numbers for testing are kept up consistently."

An antibodies blood test was also being offered for people after receiving a swab.

This was about proving if people had been "exposed" to Covid, Ms Cassels said.

"It will be interesting what people have them, whether they were people that were out and about that were essential workers."

"We don’t really know but there’s a lot of valuable data that can be gained from this."




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