Sunday, November 28

Covid-19: Call for Increased Mobile Testing in Auckland Suburbs of Interest


A major South Auckland healthcare provider says door-to-door Covid-19 testing needs to be intensified in the area.

A resident getting tested at a pop-up testing center in the southern Auckland suburb of Clover Park.

A resident getting tested at a pop-up testing center in the southern Auckland suburb of Clover Park.
Photo: THINGS / David White

Hotspots where there are known groups and unrelated cases now include Henderson, Papakura, Clover Park, Māngere, Favona, Manurewa, and Mount Wellington / Sylvia Park.

The South Seas Healthcare Trust currently has a team operating a mobile Covid-19 testing unit in South Auckland on behalf of the Northern Region Health Coordination Center (NRHCC).

South Seas Healthcare CEO Silao Vaisola-Sefo said his mobile unit has been a success, but more needs to be done in the Auckland suburbs of interest to overcome the Delta outbreak.

“We are currently doing mobile testing, both as surveillance testing and based on referrals from the Northern Region Health Coordination Center (NRHCC) and through our own systems,” Vaisola-Sefo said.

“But he has mainly focused on contact tracing after the Assembly of God. [church] group. We just need to scale things up so we can respond much faster.

“We have had pop-up test stations located in areas where we have asked people to come forward for a test,” Vaisola-Sefo said. “But we have to get into people’s homes. You really have to expand it.”

South Seas Healthcare Trust CEO Silao Vaisola-Sefo says more mobile testing is needed to overcome the Covid-19 outbreak in South Auckland.

South Seas Healthcare Trust CEO Silao Vaisola-Sefo says more mobile testing is needed to overcome the Covid-19 outbreak in South Auckland.
Photo: THINGS / Ryan Anderson

It’s important that door-to-door testing teams also offer vaccines and ask people about any other issues, such as food shortages and housing issues, to build trust with affected communities, he said.

A spokeswoman for the NRHCC said it has increased its testing capacity in Auckland’s suburbs of interest by extending the hours of operation of existing community test centers and opening new pop-up test facilities.

“People can also access free tests at their GP or a nearby designated GP office (where you don’t need to be enrolled to get tested for Covid-19) or at an urgent care clinic,” said.

“In addition to these testing options, we have mobile test providers ready to be quickly deployed as directed by public health.”

When asked if she plans to increase door-to-door testing, the spokesperson said: “We continue to review the demand for testing at community testing centers, primary care and mobile testing and are responding quickly to testing needs in our communities.

“We work with a variety of healthcare providers to provide mobile testing and we are in regular discussions with all of our providers to manage the demand for testing.”

Janet Masoe-Hundal works as the Covid-19 testing team leader for Pasifika’s healthcare provider The Fono.

“Just over the weekend we went to a transitional housing complex in Ōtāhuhu,” Masoe-Hundal said. “We went door to door and we were able to connect with those families and that worked very well.”

Masoe-Hundal said it’s a good way to break down barriers and encourage people to get tested and vaccinated. But he said he hadn’t stopped to consider whether there needs to be more mobile test units.

Epidemiologist professor Michael Baker has said that with low levels of transmission in areas like South Auckland, increasing door-to-door testing would be a more effective way to get an accurate picture of the magnitude of the problem.

Baker said the effectiveness of emerging testing centers is limited by the fact that they require people to volunteer for testing.

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Association of News Publishers, and NZ On Air.


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