More than 500 extra workers deployed to ease Covid testing queues

By Bronson Perich

South Aucklanders are waiting hours on end to get tested for Covid-19. Bernie O’Donnell, chair of the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (MUMA) says the queues are stopping people from getting tested.

Over 45,000 tests were performed between August 12-16 in Auckland alone.

O’Donnell says if the queues don’t come down, some Aucklanders will not even bother to get tested.

Priorities of the poor

The priorities of the poor are different from the rest of the country because their priorities are based on survival, he says.

So taking time off work, to get tested, or seeing a GP to get tested, is unfeasible for them.

“Four to five-hour queues waiting to be tested is not an option for our people,” O’Donnell says.

“Because it’s so difficult to do it, they don’t do it, they don’t engage.”

Medical care, wi-fi and kai 

He said the top priority in the April lockdown was access to food. This time around, he says access to testing and medical treatment are the pressing issues now.

“Our biggest enemy at the moment is queueing,” O’Donnell says.

“It’s terrible. Something has to be done about that.”

He says if people understood the vulnerabilities in South Auckland, then people would understand how to best serve the people. He says every poverty-stricken area has groups of people who have not been tested. They lack access to medical care, internet connectivity and food.

These things prevent the poor from engaging, O'Donnell says.

“They need help.”

That being said, O'Donnell wanted to emphasise his authority is not alone in fighting Covid. It is working with marae across the region, and its working relationships with the Auckland district health boards have improved.