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Easier access to COVID-19 testing

Testing is now available at the War Memorial Theatre Assessment Centre to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms – and you don’t need a GP referral.

If you or someone in your family has any respiratory illness symptoms including a cough, breathlessness, sore throat, sniffles, fever or loss of smell or taste, you can now walk-in between 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm to see a doctor, and get swabbed if necessary.

The centre is open seven days a week 9am to 5pm including every day of the Easter long weekend.

Lead clinician Dr Fergus Aitcheson says greater numbers of unwell people in Tairāwhiti are being tested to ensure the district is picking up any new cases of COVID-19.

“We’re still accepting referrals from GPs and this is still the best way to visit the assessment centre. They know you and your health background and they can arrange the test for a specific time and ensure you get the treatment you need. There is no charge to patients for COVID-related GP phone consults.”   

But walk-ins are now also available. It’s important we get a full picture of what is happening for the district so we can be sure that the infection rate is not higher than our current number of positive tests.

“Without more testing we cannot respond appropriately to the threat.”

Dr Aitcheson reminded people that come to the assessment centre to bring their cell phone so they know when they are due to be escorted into the War Memorial Theatre.

“Anyone tested will need to stay home from work until 48 hours after their respiratory illness symptoms have resolved, regardless of the test result.”

The advice to people living on the coast enrolled with Ngāti Porou Hauora suffering from respiratory symptoms is to contact their usual GP clinic and they will be directed what to do next.

Hauora Tairāwhiti Chief Executive Jim Green says reducing barriers to testing is part of the ongoing effort across the region to ensure people who are showing potential COVID-19 symptoms are undergoing checks for the disease.

“Although nearly all the tests return a negative result, it is still important that we test wherever people demonstrate potential symptoms, in line with the Ministry of Health’s case definition.”

Mr Green says there are plenty of swabs for those who need testing. TLab Gisborne supplies new swabs to the centre each day replacing what has been used the day before. It maintains a supply of 200 in stock here in Gisborne at all times and sources its swabbing kits from the TLab base in Palmerston North.

The lockdown has been a very effective measure for containing the virus and added that Gisborne Hospital was prepared should there be an increase in cases, he added.

Mr Green reminded the public Gisborne Hospital is still open for emergencies. If you or someone you know is suffering a stroke, heart attack, severe breathing difficulties or has an injury, it’s important to seek help.

“If you do have to come to the emergency department you will be met at the door and told what to do next. Please, if you are experiencing an emergency – Gisborne Hospital is a safe place to be.”

For non-emergency health care contact your GP. All medical centres are open over Easter or have an after-hours service. They will do a virtual (phone or video) consultation. If they do need to see you, medical centres are safe places to be.

Ends

What?

Covid-19 tests are available at the War Memorial Assessment Centre.

Who for?
Anyone experiencing respiratory illness symptoms including a cough, breathlessness, sore throat, sniffles, fever or loss of smell or taste.

When?

  • 9am-11am for essential service workers only.
  • 1pm-3pm for anyone without an appointment
  • The appointment time you have been given if referred by a GP.

Where? War Memorial Assessment Centre, Bright St. Please enter from Kahutia St.

Please bring:

Your cell phone so we can let you know when the nurse is ready to escort you in.

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