15 April 2024

Get ready for delayed Covid test results in Waikato as demand surges

Some Covid-19 test results in Waikato are taking longer to process at laboratories due to an increase in demand at testing centres, and this turnaround may further increase. This delay was earlier confined to Auckland.

As a result, Ministry of Health is requesting people to be ‘patient’. Officials are, however, assuring the use of rapid antigen testing (RAT) will improve the testing process time.

“As this demand has grown, some Covid-19 test results for Auckland and Waikato are currently taking longer to process at laboratories. The use of rapid antigen testing, alongside PCR testing, will improve this process at a time of exceptional demand in Phase 2, provided the Community Testing Centre queues are freely available for those who really need a test.

“We are anticipating continued high demand at our COVID-19 testing sites, so our request is to, please, be patient. Our frontline staff across the health sector are doing the best they can to help in a timely way.”

In response to NewsViews request for a comment, the WaikatoDHB has confirmed from tomorrow, Tuesday 22 February, rapid antigen tests will be made available at Waikato Community Testing Centres.

The Greenwood and Founders Theatre carpark testing sites will be the first to provide RATs to those who fit the appropriate clinical criteria, says in their today’s announcement.

“RATs will be rolled out to the other Waikato testing sites throughout the week depending on the demand for testing in those areas. At this time, please do not visit your GP or pharmacy for a RAT test or call them for guidance on RAT eligibility at Community Testing Centres.”

According to the Health Ministry, the numbers of total tests in last 24 hours were 27,109, with a rolling average of 28,567 in last 7 days.

Daily number of tests completed for COVID-19(Source: Min. of Health)

NewsViews understands that the delay in receiving test results in Hamilton has been as high as five days. In one specific case, a result of a swab done on 16 February afternoon was received only at 3.30pm today, 21 February after a long, anxious wait.

“Our family of four were tested four days back after our child was deemed a close contact at her primary school. As parents, we are unable to return to work until we receive our negative results. I’ve been ringing up the test centre repeatedly with no success…,” says one such affected mum of two small children.

Similar frustrating views are echoed by another Hamilton resident who has been forced to work from home as her husband’s test results were still awaited for fifth day now.

“This long wait (to get result) is very frustrating for the family also – especially the uncertainty that comes with it. We’ve been confined to our home even though there are no symptoms, but who wants to take a chance of spreading it unknowingly?”

With 2,365 new community cases today, taking the total active cases to 15,928 in current outbreak and 116 in hospital (including 12 in Waikato), there will be more close contacts and more people are expected to get tests done.

Health officials believe unnecessary testing is occurring, including from people who didn’t have symptoms and were getting tested for reassurance. As a result of unnecessary testing, there are longer waits for testing and delays results for those who urgently need them.

The official advice is only those with symptoms or who have been identified as close contacts of a case, or directed by a health professional to get tested, should be turning up at testing sites.

Waikato Community Testing Centres have increased screening of those seeking a test to help prevent those who do not need a test from waiting in line, and to speed up access for those who do. Waikato DHB has assured samples for essential or critical workers will be processed as a priority, with results expected within three days.

People are required to stay home until they receive a negative result is the official advice. However, the undue test result delays is already causing concern at how long people will need to isolate even if they don’t have any symptoms.

With Omicron spreading across the country, longer turnaround times with your swab test results are likely to continue, leading to more uncertainty and anxiety for those waiting.

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