Testing station for Invercargill as demand soars

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty
A Covid-19 testing station will be opened in Invercargill as demand for tests skyrockets in the South.

WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said a testing centre would open at Invercargill’s WellSouth site by tomorrow to help ease demand on GPs in the area.

"We understand GPs in Dunedin have been busy but at this stage we are ensuring the facility is ready to go if GP can’t cope with the demand," he said.

Conversations with GPs in Queenstown and Wanaka would be had this afternoon to see what demand there was like.

There had been a significant rise in demand in the South today, he said.

"It is exactly what has been requested, but we need to ensure it is people who are symptomatic or who have been close contacts.’’

Southern health leaders have been meeting today to discuss planning and ramping up testing as the South moves to Level 2.

In a statement this morning the Southern District Health Board said all health services would continue at this stage, with appropriate hygiene and safety measures in place.

Decisions around hospital visitor restrictions and processes will be discussed by members of Southern’s Technical Advisory Group today, and would be communicated to the public as soon as possible.

Medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack, Chief Executive Chris Fleming, chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar and other senior executives began meeting early this morning to discuss the implications of the return to Level 2 for the health system in the Southern district.

Public health and WellSouth primary health network leaders were also meeting this morning to put an action plan in place.

Mr Fleming said the health board will be supporting Primary Health and Public Health to ensure testing is ramped up, and it was prepared to conduct contact tracing and isolation of anyone necessary.

"The first lockdown taught us what was required of Southern’s health services during heightened alert levels, and in the past 100 days we have put in place plans for public health, primary and community care, aged residential care and our hospitals.

"It means we know what actions will trigger certain responses. Over the next few days we will again be reviewing these plans to make sure they are completely up to date.''

At this stage there was no need to reduce services.

"However, in terms of safety, the public can be assured that we will have the appropriate infection prevention and control measures in place for treating patients, and that where possible we are maintaining physical distancing within our facilities.

"We understand that aged residential care providers will be activating response plans, which include greater vigilance around hygiene, infection prevention and control, and managing staff and visitor movement,” he said.

Dr Jack said the public health response in the district would support the wider national response called for by the Prime Minister and Ministry of Health.

“At this stage it is important to reiterate that there is no evidence of any Covid-19 in the Southern district, however we need to ensure we remain vigilant and are ready to respond if the situation changes.”

Dr Jack urges anyone in the Southern district with flu-like symptoms to ring their GP or 0800 VIRUS19 and to get tested.

"Southerners by nature don’t want to make a fuss, but getting tested is the responsible thing to do and is a way of helping Public Health staff and your community. 

"By being tested you can help us identify whether or not Covid-19 is active in our community and where we need to concentrate efforts on tracing and eliminating it.

“People also need to maintain good hand hygiene, washing hands with soap for more than 20 seconds, rinsing and then drying thoroughly.  Cover your coughs and sneezes by sneezing or coughing into your elbow and maintaining social distancing.  If you are sick, please stay home.''

She also encouraged people to download a contact tracing app and to consider having a face mask ready to use when in situations where physical distancing is difficult. 

Add a Comment


Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter