Medical Officer of Health Dr Robert Weir said while we’re officially out of the winter period, Spring can often bring with it allergies and other respiratory illnesses with symptoms similar to COVID-19.
“Testing for people with symptoms remains important, and anyone exhibiting cold, flu or allergy symptoms, however minor, should seek advice about how to get a test.”
COVID-19 symptoms include: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, high temperature (at least 38˚C), shortness of breath or temporary loss of smell.
“MidCentral DHB continues to offer free drive-in COVID-19 tests at the 575 Main Street testing site in Palmerston North, and General Practice Teams throughout the region are still able to provide free tests as well.”
“While it is reassuring that we have not had a confirmed case in our region in some time, we must not be complacent. Even though we have moved down to Alert Level One, we need to maintain vigilance and retain our readiness should alert levels need to change.”
Dr Weir said it was important for the testing teams to reach into communities and population groups who may not have easy access to testing or who were at a higher risk if they contracted COVID-19.
“While all are welcome to be tested, we are particularly interested in testing Māori and Pasifika people, those aged over 65, as well as members of the community who live with a chronic illness, such as respiratory disease, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.”
Successful pop up testing sites for people without symptoms were held in Levin and Dannevirke this month, with 343 and 221 people tested at each site, respectively. All of those swabbed returned negative test results. Most recently, on 15 September, a team tested staff at Turks Poultry Farm in Foxton, with close to 70 people being tested.
Turks Health and Safety and Processing Systems Coordinator Nathan Frost said testing at their site went smoothly and they were pleased with the large number who got tested.
“On behalf of myself and Turks Poultry, we found the team that performed the COVID testing did an absolutely great job. Our staff felt comfortable and the testing staff themselves were friendly and great to get along with, which eased the situation.”
Medical Officer of Health Dr Robert Weir said planning was under way for further pop ups in the community and surveillance testing at businesses and organisations throughout the MidCentral region.
“Testing people at pop up sites in the community and at their workplaces will help us to reassure the community that MidCentral remains COVID-19 free. It was pleasing to see such strong turnouts at both the Levin and Dannevirke pop-up testing sites, and we certainly appreciate the efforts of those who have taken the opportunity to get a swab.
The testing team at Turks Poultry Farm, Foxton.