Testing sites available soon
Stations to diagnose people carrying Covid-19 have been set up around the region by Northland District Health Board (NDHB) with the first Community Testing Centres (CTC) already opened on March 19 in Whangarei, Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Kaikohe and Kawakawa with a Dargaville station available from March 25.
At time of print, a CTC for east Kaipara – Mangawhai, Kaiwaka and Maungaturoto, is yet to be confirmed. NHB’s medical officer of health, Dr Catherine Jackson says the purpose of the centres is to only test people who believe they have been exposed to Covid-19 from having travelled overseas in the last two weeks or are showing symptoms of a cough, sore throat, fever and shortness of breath – but will not provide medical care or assessment.
"If you are feeling unwell and are sick enough to normally see your doctor please call your GP for an appointment,” she says. “The aim of the centres is to take the load off general practice teams and emergency departments and reduce exposure risk for healthcare workers in other walk-in care locations.” People may be asked to stay in their cars while waiting to be tested and will also be advised to practice social distancing by keep two metres away from others who are waiting to be tested.
“If you can’t make it to the clinic during opening hours it is safe to wait until the next day, the clinic is open unless you need to see a doctor, in which case you should seek medical attention.”
As the symptoms are similar to other illnesses such as cold and flu which are much more common, having the symptoms does not necessarily mean an individual has Covid-19 Jackson says, although ‘shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention’. “Healthline remains the first point of contact for people who are unwell and have symptoms, and will provide guidance on whether testing is needed and will indicate whether people should contact their GP for a referral to a testing centre.”
If necessary all medical centres and GPs will still be able to collect test samples for Covid-19 testing.
For more information about testing centres in Northland visit northlanddhb.org.nz