Saturday, November 27

Locals Criticize Hawke’s Bay DHB’s ‘Terrible Communication’ on Covid-19 Testing

Napier residents have criticized the local health board’s “lousy communication and lack of action” on testing for Covid-19, following a positive result in sewage.

Ōtara Test Center on Wednesday February 24th.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

On Friday night, the Health Ministry announced a positive Covid test result on Napier’s wastewater.

On the same day, the ministry also announced positive wastewater results at Gisborne and Stratford in Taranaki. Both places had self-service test sites.

But for most of the weekend, Napier didn’t. Their only testing center was on Vautier St and it only allowed appointments.

The DHB ended up allowing walk-ins for two hours just from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The lack of walk-in testing opportunities upset Napier resident Linda, who did not want her last name used.

“Having been ill with a sore throat, cough, etc., and having associated with people who had legitimately traveled from Auckland, I thought I should take a test,” he told RNZ.

“Given the ‘get tested’ message and the number of people who may have had symptoms, it’s amazing that there doesn’t seem to be a contingency plan to open local phone lines and pop-up test stations.

“So did the HBDHB have a contingency plan to implement as soon as a positive wastewater test or community case was identified? If yes, why was it not immediately activated and communicated? If not, with What level of competition are we dealing with?

“The Napier News Facebook page and other pages were filled with comments from people frustrated by the lack of information from HBDHB and no action to set up a pop-up test station. Especially when both Gisborne and Stratford had immediately responded to their Covid positive of wastewater testing with pop-up stations, “he said.

“There needs to be an explanation for the terrible communication and inaction of the HBDHB.”

Napier testing.

Napier testing.
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

The chairman of the local branch of the National Party, Ben Simmons, said he heard complaints from the community.

“I was actually quite appalled, I thought by now we would be running a pretty well oiled machine, and we would have test centers – several of them would show up so the public could go.”

He said an eventual drive-in clinic was “better late than never, but if people have been turned away, what is the probability that they will come back?”

“That is my concern, and if they have been rejected, they are out there being spreaders. So we have to get this right at this stage, this is nothing new.”

Mayor Kirsten Wise said that while about 500 tests were conducted at Napier over the weekend, which she said was a “great effort,” she also had concerns.

“I was a little worried that initially, there was no possibility to enter, everything had to be done through a reservation system,” she said.

“That puts a barrier that could prevent some people from getting tested. So I was really happy that the DHB responded and created that direct access opportunity for people.

“I think we will always be monitoring what the demand levels are like, and I will be the first to go batting with the DHB if I feel there is a need for additional test stations.”

He said that tonight he would speak to the DHB and discuss whether they had enough capacity.

A spokesperson for Hawke’s Bay DHB said the region’s Covid-19 telephone anticipation system was installed during last year’s Level 4 lockdown.

“At the peak of Alert Level 4 periods, our test centers were processing up to 1000 tests per day, which indicates the daily capacity these centers are capable of. The system has performed well in our region without public calls. to open walk-ins in the past.

“However, the DHB is constantly evaluating the demand and is ready to do massive testing at any time and / or introduce walk-in testing.

Given the positive Covid-19 sewage sample at Napier last week, the DHB is asking anyone who is ill with the mildest symptoms, including anyone who has recently traveled to an alert level 3 region in the last 14 days, to be tested.

“By calling ahead to make an appointment, testing centers can screen patients over the phone to make sure they meet Covid-19 testing criteria, as testing this group of people provides our best opportunity to help ensure that there are no undetected cases of Covid-19 in Hawke’s Bay.

“It also means that there are no long wait times for patients when they arrive at their assigned time.”

The DHB said over the weekend that the testing centers in Napier and Hastings saw a “steady stream” of people, with more than 780 swabs processed.

On Sunday afternoon, the Napier test center opened its doors without an appointment between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., and 43 people took advantage of that opportunity.

But today, the DHB went back to the telephone reservation system.

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