More than 600 Covid test results returned later than 24 hours

It is staggering that, 18 months into the global pandemic and after repeated warnings about testing capacity, more than 600 positive tests for Covid in this current outbreak took longer than 24 hours to be returned, says National’s Covid Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“Answers to written questions reveal that from August 23-17 October, 2116 positive community test results have been returned in this most recent outbreak. A total of 605 positive community test results took more than 24 hours between the swab arriving at the lab and the result being uploaded, 100 took more than 48 hours and, incredibly, 16 positive tests took more than 72 hours.

“These numbers are just unacceptable and show that, once again, the Government is failing to meet the targets its own expert – and now Associate Health Minister – Ayesha Verrall set back in April last year.

“Dr Verrall’s goal was for 80 per cent of results to be returned within 24 hours. On these numbers, just over 70 per cent are being returned within that timeframe.

“The number is arguably even more important with Delta, which is much more transmissible compared to the original Covid.

“Quite obviously, the longer a person with Covid is out in the community without knowing it, the more contact there can be with others. Turning test results around quickly is therefore extremely important and once again the government has dropped the ball.

“The Government has been repeatedly warned that testing capacity needs to be increased, and private sector partners such as Rako Science have even offered to assist, only to be given the proverbial middle finger.

“At the height of this outbreak, some people were lining up for 10-12 hours to be tested. Many would have given up or not bothered at all, which is the opposite of what we want occurring.

“Solutions to our testing capacity problems are staring the Government in the face but it refuses to use them.

“This is yet more evidence of a Government that failed to plan for Delta. Labour spent the first six months of the year in smug self-congratulation mode, assuming it would beat Delta in 2021 by running the same playbook as in 2020.

“It failed to invest and prepare and now New Zealanders are paying the price.”

You can find the answer to a Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ) below:


Portfolio: COVID-19 Response (Hon Chris Hipkins)

Question: In relation to the August 2021 Community cluster COVID-19 outbreak, how many positive test results have been returned so far, how many positive test results were returned more than 24 hours after the test was received; how many positive test results were returned more than 48 hours after the test was received; how many positive test results were returned more than 72 hours after the test was received; and how many positive test results were returned more than 96 hours after the test was received?

Reply: I am advised that as at 17 October 2021, 2,116 positive community test results have been returned. Please note that some people are tested more than once, and a positive case often results in more than one positive test. 605 positive community test results took more than 24 hours between the swab arriving at the lab and the result being uploaded. 100 positive community test results took more than 48 hours between the swab arriving at the lab and the result being uploaded. 16 positive community test results took more than 72 hours between the swab arriving at the lab and the result being uploaded. No positive community test results took more than 96 hours between the swab arriving at the lab and the result being uploaded.