As Covid testing surges Ministry limits criteria

One of the biggest concerns over the handling of Covid had been the limited criteria that the Ministry of Health used to allow testing for the virus. This became a bigger issue over the last two weeks regarding testing of people before releasing them from isolation or quarantine.

Criteria were relaxed, and this week there has been a surge in testing numbers, with a record 9,174 tests done on Tuesday (23 June).

There have been reports of long queues at testing stations – this will have been made worse because the number of testing stations have been significantly reduced.

Apparently as a result the Ministry has tightened up on testing criteria again.

RNZ:  Ministry of Health reintroduces high risk criteria for Covid-19 testing

Covid-19 testing for every person with a cough or cold symptom has been dropped by the Ministry of Health.

Under new Ministry of Health testing guidelines, doctors and testing clinics, are urged to instead focus on those at highest risk.

For the past several weeks, anyone with even a sniffle had been told they can be tested for Covid-19.

But that will no longer be the case unless they fall into a high risk group or their doctor advises it.

The high risk group includes anyone who have recently:

  • Had contact with an infected person
  • Been overseas
  • Had direct contact with someone who had been overseas
  • Worked on an international aircraft of ship
  • Worked at an airport or isolation facility

Other people with a cold or flu symptom could still be tested but it will not be a requirement.

The move is expected to put an end to the huge demand for tests in some areas over the past week as cold and flu season hit.

Northland GP Geoff Cunningham was so busy he ran out of swabs.

He was relieved to see the change.

“It would be unsustainable if we were to continue swabbing every minor respiratory tract infection,” he said.

Leading public health doctor Nick Wilson, said the change was the right thing to do because there was no evidence the virus was transmitting in the community.

These are risky decisions basing tests on symptoms, especially because it is well known now that people with no symptoms can carry the virus.

This may be fine for now. But if the virus does get out into the community again it may not be picked up soon enough to contain it.

At least the seem to have comprehensive testing in place for people coming into the country and going into mandatory isolation.

Leave a comment


  1. John J Harrison

     /  25th June 2020

    If you don’t test you will never know if Covid – 19 is in the community.
    It’s that simple but also politically expedient.

  2. lurcher1948

     /  25th June 2020

    I had a Covid-19 test yesterday,due to my nasty man flu,there were some symptoms and due to my age,long swab to the back of the throat and up the right nostral,simple as, results in 48 hrs

  3. Alan, did you see that Northlanders are ‘happy, shiny people’ ?


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