Government incompetence over saliva testing

The Government’s sheer incompetence on rolling out saliva testing is staggering, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“In September last year the Government’s expert advisors told it to introduce saliva testing as soon as possible. Saliva testing is still a form of PCR testing, but the samples are far easier to obtain and it’s kinder that the nasal swabs on those who have regular tests.

“But COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed he still doesn’t have a timeline for a nationwide roll out of saliva testing, nine months on from the first recommendation.

“There have been just 386 saliva tests carried out as part of the voluntary scheme adopted in January. Experts say saliva tests has a similar accuracy rate to nasal swabs, and frequent testing would increase our security against COVID-19 at the border.

“It’s clear from leaked emails that border workers desperately want saliva testing and have said as much to the Ministry of Health multiple times, but it’s the Government who is once again been dragging the chain.

“When questioned about his Government’s slowness to act Chris Hipkins threw his own officials under the bus, saying he’d be following up with them.

“But it’s been nine months since the recommendation to introduce saliva testing, it’s time for the Minister to get on with the job and roll out saliva testing nationwide.

“Our border workers deserve better, they’re working incredibly hard to keep all of New Zealand safe from COVID-19, we should be giving them all the tools they need to do their job.

“This was a no-brainer back in September, it’s staggering the Government still hasn’t got its act together.”