Testing moves to the community

PHOTO: SUPPLIED REPORT: LAURA SMITH Awarua Whanau Services chief executive Mata Cherrington was one of about 120 people who were swabbed at the covid-19 testing site at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff on Monday. WellSouth medical director Stephen Graham said those tested would need to wait up to 72 hours to get their results."We're very lucky here that we have got a lab in Dunedin and generally process a lot quicker than other places."Testing turnout was higher than expected, and more tests were needed."We've been doing quite a lot of testing of asymptomatic people, particularly Maori and Pacific Islander, but also backpackers who are considered to be high risk."He said the testing was to address concerns the disease could be spread by asymptomatic people in the community. "This is our attempt to find out if that is the case."

SOUTHLAND Alliance Freezing Company workers were “more than happy” to assist health officials by being tested for Covid-19 last Friday, a director of nursing says.

More than 50 WellSouth staff took 400 testing kits to the Alliance Lorneville meat processing plant as part of the continued voluntary surveillance testing of asymptomatic people in the community.

Ready to go: WellSouth health professionals gathered for a briefing ahead of last Friday’s Covid-19 testing at the Alliance Lorneville plant. Photo: Supplied

WellSouth director of nursing Wendy Findlay said testing ran from about noon to 6pm on Friday and by 3pm, 200 tests had been carried out.

“We’re not surprised by the numbers [of volunteers].”

Health staff were split into two groups and 24 workers were tested at one time, which took about 10 minutes per person.

Mrs Findlay said Alliance staff were “very welcoming to health professionals and keen to participate”.

“They [Alliance staff] feel it’s important that we do this work to know whether there are any pockets of the virus in the community and so they feel like they’re helping out.”

Ongoing testing would mean health officials would have a better idea of when it was safest to move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.

Health professionals had come from Queenstown, Wanaka and Dunedin to help Southland staff carry out testing.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the co-operative wanted to “play its part” in the fight against Covid-19.

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