Saliva testing delayed – again

It’s been ten months since the Government’s own experts said ‘all efforts’ should be made to introduce saliva testing as soon as possible, but the Government has delayed the roll out yet again, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins today announced an ‘expansion’ of saliva testing, an announcement that is remarkably similar to the last time he announced a saliva testing expansion back on 26 May this year.

“In May Minister Hipkins said saliva testing would commence ‘as part of a phased roll out beginning in June’,” Mr Bishop says.

“Today the Minister announced that saliva testing will actually start from mid-August and will be expanded over several months.

“Today’s announcement is another attempt to give the appearance of progress on saliva testing when the truth is we still don’t have a timeline for a proper roll out. By the time it starts in mid-August it will have been nearly a year since the Roche/Simpson report recommended it start as soon as possible.

“Saliva testing at our border is a no-brainer.

“As even the Ministry of Health has acknowledged, more frequent saliva testing would mean picking up COVID-19 cases earlier and increasing the likelihood of preventing an outbreak.

“Workers at the border are desperate for saliva tests, as the ‘up the nose’ PCR test is very uncomfortable.

“It is just staggering that the Government still hasn’t sorted out this mess. The roll out of saliva testing has been a debacle. It is widely used overseas and experts have been telling the Labour Government to use it for many months.

“It’s not good enough for the Government to blame officials and throw their hands up in frustration. Ministers must own this epic fail. They’re in charge and they have to take responsibility.

“Saliva testing has an important role to play in keeping our border secure. The Government should’ve sorted this mess out months ago.”