Waikato is now the third region behind Northland and Auckland to roll out Rapid Antigen Testing at Community Testing Centres as local labs struggle to meet demand.
Waikato District Health Board Covid-19 response executive lead Maree Munro said its labs were already at full capacity.
Some COVID-19 test results for Waikato are currently taking longer to process. Waikato DHB’s laboratory continues to expand capacity but is advising that non-priority test results may require up to seven days at this time as there are still high numbers of tests being submitted for those who do not meet the criteria.
“We are seeing labs, reaching really, their full capacity and saying ‘we can’t deliver the results of tests in a timely manner, we need to do something about the demand that is coming in.”
As a result, Munro said it decided to use rapid antigen tests to combat demand.
Munro said the use of rapid antigen testing, alongside PCR testing, would speed up the process as demand continued to grow through the Omicron outbreak.
Munro said while there was a level of anxiety in the community, there was a high demand of people who wanted a test but did not meet the criteria – ultimately holding up those who did meet criteria.
“If they’re not symptomatic, then they shouldn’t be coming.
We are wanting to see those people who should be coming through the testing sites, not people who are asymptomatic and wanting the security of a negative result.”
Munro said RATs would be rolled out to all testing centres in the city this week, but for now they were at the Founders Theatre and Greenwood testing centres.
Case numbers as of Wednesday 23 February
Waikato Total Active Cases: 1478
Whāingaroa Active Cases: 11
Hamilton Active Cases: 613
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