26 Sep 2023
National is urging the Government to get on top of the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland by adopting a five-point plan for managing community cases.
1. Introduce rapid antigen testing – nasal swab tests that return results in 15 minutes
Rapid antigen testing would allow us to test large numbers of New Zealanders, quickly. Those who test positive would then have their results confirmed by a standard PCR test. These tests are common in other countries like the United States where there are FDA-approved home test kits for less than $15.
They are especially good for giving quick answers and peace of mind to people who are showing symptoms of illness and want to know if they have Covid-19.
Rapid antigen tests would be an added layer of testing alongside the standard nasal PCR tests already being done here. Our Government already considers them reliable enough to accept them as a pre-departure test for arrival into New Zealand.
2. Roll out high intensity, well-staffed testing stations across Papatoetoe and at every single location of interest
The Government also needs to roll out more staff across more testing sites to cut down waiting times and make it easier for people to visit a testing station.
Long queues and wait times will discourage people from getting tested. We need to fix this.
3. Conduct higher intensity wastewater testing at suburb and sub-suburb levels in Papatoetoe
There should be daily wastewater inspection at ports, and at a more granular level in Papatoetoe than just the main interceptors.
4. Set aside enough vaccines for all border and port workers, then priority vaccinate South Auckland
Starting with Papatoetoe High school followed by wider Papatoetoe in parallel with border and health workers. South Auckland presents an increased risk of transmission due to the density of its population and the number of border workers who reside there.
We understand the need to prioritise other vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, for vaccination but stopping outbreaks at the source is also a form of protection of these groups.
5. Increase monitoring of people who are required to self-isolate, including spot checks.
New Zealanders have largely done a great job of following self-isolation advice but it’s unlikely we’ll ever have 100 per cent compliance, and it’s extremely frustrating when a small number of people don’t follow the rules.
Monitoring of self-isolators should be ramped up to guarantee compliance. This means regular spot checks, and if no contact is made within 24 hours then police are involved.
No one wants us to be yo-yoing in and out of lockdown. We need to manage community outbreaks better and reduce the risk of more damaging lockdowns.