Covid-19 coronavirus: ‘Shambles’ – Te Papa worker turned away from Covid testing station

A Wellington Te Papa worker who was told to isolate and get a Covid-19 test is frustrated after struggling to get into a testing station due to the lack of facilities and availability.

The employee and their family, who wish to remain anonymous, said there was only one testing station in the city (Taranaki St) and the only other one close enough at the time to Wellington (Cannon’s Creek) only operates on a Wednesday.

They said they tried to make a booking at Cannon’s Creek testing station but were told they don’t take bookings. When asked if he could walk in they turned him down saying they were at full capacity and would only be open after 5pm on Thursday.

Even after telling health workers he works at Te Papa, there was no information given on how to assure he would be tested promptly.

They said the system is a shambles.

“We tried to make a booking but we were told they only do walk-ins. But when we asked what happens if we turn up tomorrow and can’t get tested they didn’t give me an answer.

“Basically, the only place people can really go is Taranaki St in the city. It’s ridiculous. This is our second biggest city and there’s only one full-time testing station operating in the city.”

People who were at the same locations at the same time as the Australian man with Covid-19 have been urged to get tested.

The Ministry Of Health has told those who were at locations of interest to call Helpline.

However, the Te Papa employee had tried numerous times to get through to Helpline but there was no answer or it would get disconnected.

While the worker wants to get tested, the employee’s only mode of transport into the city is via bus which could put others at risk.

The family said the holes in the system are making it difficult for people to do the right thing.

“The only way he can get in to get a test is to take a bus. What if he has Covid? Imagine that. Then half the bus becomes infected.

“It’s like if Auckland’s only full-time testing station was on Queen St. What an absolute shambles. It’s dire.

“When we called Healthline there was no answer and we kept getting disconnected.

“We are trying to do the right thing but the system is so bad it makes you think why should we even bother, it makes you think why should we give a f*** if it’s going to be too hard.”

To add to the confusion, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at a media conference on Wednesday afternoon that another testing centre would also be set up at the ASB Sports’ Centre at 72 Kemp St in Kilbirnie.

However, Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean later said in a statement that the sports’ centre would not be used as a testing site.

As of 6pm on Wednesday, Wellington moved to alert level 2 after a Covid-19 positive man from Sydney visited a spate of locations in the capital.

The restrictions for the region, including Wairarapa and Kāpiti Coast, will stay in place until 11.59pm on Sunday.

Under alert level 2, gatherings are limited to 100 people, and face masks would be compulsory on public transport while people were encouraged to wear them while waiting for transport.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan that the public health risk was low – but that didn’t mean there was “no risk”.

“We know that we’ve got a couple of exposure events where we had someone with Covid-19 in an environment where Covid-19 could potentially spread reasonably quickly. That increases the risk. But it still is, overall, low risk at this point.”

Hipkins also urged people to wear masks where social distancing isn’t possible.

The man may have the more infectious Delta variant – and if so, it would mark the first time the variant had been circulating in New Zealand as part of a community outbreak.

Hipkins told du Plessis-Allan the results for the man’s partner hadn’t been returned yet.

The Ministry of Health confirmed all four close contacts of the Sydney tourist have returned initial negative tests.

Two of the people are in Palmerston North and the other two are in Tauranga.

A new pop-up Covid testing centre opened at Hataitai Park this afternoon.

HOW TO GET TESTED IN THE WELLINGTON REGION

196-200 Taranaki St – Wellington City
Drive-thru testing centre or walk-through 10am to 4pm. Call 0800 885 022.

178 Bedford St, Porirua
9am to 4pm weekdays. 10am to 3pm weekends. To book call 0508 672 862.

Kāpiti, Team Medical, Coastlands Shoppingtown, Paraparaumu
Appointment only. Call 0800 885 022.

Ruahine St, Hataitai park, Hataitai
Pop-up testing centre. Open Thursday-Friday 10am to 6pm.

729 High St, Lower Hutt central, Lower Hutt
Thursday-Friday 9am to 4pm. Appointments preferred.

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