Auckland testing centres overwhelmed, claims of queue jumping, urinating on side of road

A man who waited nearly 12 hours for a Covid test at an Auckland facility described the scene as "chaos" with people trying to jump the queue and being forced to urinate at the side of the road.

Erika, who did not want to give her surname, said her 42-year-old partner drove to the Eden Terrace Community Testing Centre in New North Rd at 9.15am yesterday - and waited until 8.45pm.

"It was just an absolute sh*t show. There was no traffic management so people were just pushing in. It was just chaos."

She said her partner had been unwell for three weeks with cold and flu symptoms prior to Auckland moving back to alert level 3 restrictions at midday yesterday.

"He had been to the doctor three times over the past three weeks with cold and flu-like symptoms. He'd asked for a Covid test. He'd been refused. They said he didn't need one."

The last visit to the same medical centre was the day before Auckland went into level 3 lockdown.

"He is actually feeling a lot better but thought he'd do the right thing and get tested."

Central Auckland residents queue to be tested at the Mt Eden Community Testing Centre in New...
Central Auckland residents queue to be tested at the Mt Eden Community Testing Centre in New North Road on Thursday morning. Photo / Greg Bowker

Erika said the wait time for the test yesterday was frustrating with a queue thought to stretch up to 2km along New North Rd to Morningside.

"Heaps of people who had been waiting for hours were just pulling out of the queue and just leaving and not waiting to be tested."

"I really felt for the people sitting in their cars - no supplies, no direction."

And nowhere to go to the toilet. Erika said many in the queue including her partner were forced to urinate on the side of the road while they waited.

She said those people who arrived on foot were tested ahead of those queuing in their cars and following social distancing rules.

When the couple finally made it to the front of the queue, they still had to wait.

"They have a holding bay with 10 cars and there was no system to it. We'd been waiting in it for over an hour when my partner went to someone and said 'I've been waiting here 11 and a half hours. Can we please get tested'."

Erika also had cold symptoms a week earlier and also took the test, saying the couple were told the results would take three to five days.

The situation arose despite capacity at Auckland's four community testing centres being boosted with additional staff and longer hours.

The Herald asked the Ministry of Health whether it can manage the testing wait times better.

It said it would look into the testing site but otherwise referred questions to Auckland District Health Board and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield's media conference at 1pm today.

Auckland health authorities began ramping up Covid-19 testing facilities after worried residents were forced to wait up to seven hours in other cases, for a swab on Wednesday.

Testing centres in the Super City were inundated as level 3 restrictions hit, with the huge waits labelled a "debacle" by Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman.

In Hamilton a person was arrested at a testing centre yesterday.

The testing location at Claudelands Event Centre reported being "overwhelmed", and began turning people away.

Following the announcement that Auckland was returning to Covid-19 alert level 3 and other regions to level 2, more than 500 people turned up to the Claudelands facility seeking a test by 10am yesterday, a Waikato District Health Board spokeswoman said.

She said the DHB was working to rapidly add assessment and testing facilities in the region and would announce them as they came online.

The Claudelands CBAC would also be expanding its capacity and increasing hours and the DHB would set up mobile CBAC services to boost rural access to testing.

GP clinics continued to provide assessment and testing, she said. Patients were asked to call first to check availability and make an appointment.

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