Dr O’Sullivan challenges lack of COVID-19 testing in Kaitāia

updated By Jessica Tyson

Dr Lance O’Sullivan has spoken out about his concerns over a lack of COVID-19 testing available to residents in Kaitāia.

In a live video posted to Facebook today, he explained that the community-based testing station in Kaitāia is open only five days a week, meaning residents who want to get tested in the weekend will have to wait until Monday.

Dr O’Sullivan also explained in his video that he has been helping one man who needs to get tested but has been unable to do so because the testing station was closed this weekend.

“He’s been unwell for six days with fevers. He’s been in contact with a confirmed COVID case. He’s developed a cough and he’s got hypertension. He’s almost certainly got COVID and he’s one of these high-risk patients, he said.

“The issue for me people is I want to send him up to get tested at the community-based testing station because we have not been supplied any swabs or any testing gear by the DHB and it’s closed.”

Dr O’Sullivan is also concerned because the man showing signs of having COVID-19 recently went grocery shopping.

“If he tests positive we’d be able to say to him, ‘Look, you’ve got to stay at home, you can’t do the shopping’. I’m not critical of him. I’m critical of a system that’s not testing enough. We either test fully or we forget about it.

Meanwhile, operations manager at Kaitāia Hospital Neta Smith posted a video today on Facebook saying testing is available to residents in Kaitāia at any time.

"Currently our testing clinic is running out of the whare at the front of the hospital, Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. After hours in Kaitāia, we have our GP services and hospital services running 24 hours, seven days a week. So if somebody is unwell and needs to be seen, then they will be seen."

She says anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested.

"We have adequate supplies and equipment to treat you and currently have 120 swabs available in Kaitāia."

Smith says there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kaitāia.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are 13 cases of COVID-19 cases in Northland. Earlier today, the ministry announced that on average, 2,264 tests are being processed per day around New Zealand and the goal is to increase the number of tests.

Yesterday, 3,631 tests were processed, the highest number of single tests done in a day since testing began.  

Dr O’Sullivan said, “You’ve got a government telling 5,000 are being done around the country. Well, they ain’t up here. And it’s only Monday to Friday 8pm to 5pm. I have to say this is a big worry. We’ve got a community now that have to be worried about is it safe to go to the supermarket.”

Dr O’Sullivan apologised for making the post but said “It has to be done. Sh**s not happening up here. It’s serious.”

In total, 33,116 tests have been processed in New Zealand and the Ministry of Health is working to ensure more tests can be processed as the days continue.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says more supplies are coming from overseas and inside New Zealand to continue the testing capacity. The highest demand is for nasal swabs and 300,000 swabs are expected to become available over the next three weeks.