Where on earth is saliva testing?

National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop is asking why we aren’t using saliva testing in the community as part of the fight against the current delta outbreak.

“A week ago Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told New Zealanders the Government would be talking to private sector partners to look at saliva testing in the community.

“With people waiting 10 hours or more in the testing queue, and then in some cases a further five days for their results, why aren’t we making use of saliva testing to add to our surge capacity?

“At this time testing is absolutely critical. Saliva testing could be rolled out quickly and effectively to add to our capacity to test Kiwis.

“The latest figures from the Ministry of Health show that of 369 close-plus contacts in the latest outbreak, who are considered the highest risk, only 51 per cent had returned a test.

“We clearly have issues with our surge capacity for testing and saliva testing could help. Private sector providers are there, ready to go.

“It’s been almost a year since saliva testing was recommended by Sir Brian Roche and Heather Simpson to be implemented at the border and the Government has dragged its heels in rolling it out and now we see the situation repeating itself with community testing.

“Since January a mere 457 saliva tests have been carried out at the border.

“As National has repeatedly said, saliva testing has an important role to play in keeping New Zealanders safe, not only at the border and in MIQ facilities, but also in our community.

“The Government needs to stop delaying and get to work on immediately implementing saliva testing as an option to try and get on top of this Delta outbreak.”