Waipareira calls for inquiry into RATs

By Tumamao Harawira

As Omicron case numbers take off, rapid antigen testing has been used to speed up testing but, according to John Tamihere, these types of tests shouldn't be used as a major testing tool.

"These could have been dispensed among Kiwis, and it didn't need to be panicked. Health director-general Ashley Bloomfield then declares just last week, that they are no longer a screening test, and one that he dislikes, but now they are a diagnostic tool."

"Twelve months ago, Whānau Ora requested the rollout of rapid antigen tests (RATs) for Covid infection, knowing full well that this was a screening tool – not a diagnostic tool.

"In February 2021 at the 1pm 'podium of truth' press conference, health director-general Ashley Bloomfield went on the record when asked why he did not rate RATs. He said “of all the different testing modalities, antigen testing seems to be the least reliable” and he was not contemplating using RATs in Aotearoa.

There are 14,633 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today, the Ministry of Health reports.

Panic lineup

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said there are also 344 cases in hospitals and five in intensive care.

Some 9,305 cases are in Auckland today, and that is causing enormous stress at testing centres.

"If you look outside Whānau o Waipareira today, you will see panic, lines for Africa."

"What we see on our lines is people coming from the North  Shore and middle-class capture. A lot of our more vulnerable communities can't even make the line."

Tamihere wants other types of testing to be made available immediately and has challenged Bloomfield. 

"Saliva testing costs less than the nasal swabbing but he blocked that. So everywhere you go, he just blocks things and has made it very difficult for us, in a very difficult moment in time for all our communities."