Coronavirus testing in New Zealand needs to increase - expert

Source: 1News

Coronavirus can be contained with a "very vigorous" response, says Otago University public health professor Michael Baker, who welcomed the latest moves by the Government to tackle Covid-19. 

Professor Michael Baker of Otago University spoke to TVNZ1’s Q+A about the virus now it's in NZ.

As of midnight tonight, everyone entering New Zealand, except from the Pacific, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

"We’ve got the 'keep it out' part, we need the 'stamp it out' part as well," Professor Baker told TVNZ1's Q+A with Jack Tame today. 

"This means a huge ramping up of testing and diagnosis and contact tracing and quarantine of those contacts."

He said the level of testing was not enough – "we have to really increase this".

"We have the capacity we just need to logistics. You’re looking at a military style operation."

He said in Australia there were special clinics where people with symptoms could go to avoid the GP waiting room.

"It just makes the testing more accessible."

Also on the show, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said testing at the border would not be effective. 

"Tests can produce false negatives, my concern would be putting all that resource into testing when it may not be accurate, then it might create a false sense of security that people who need to self isolate wouldn’t.

"We will have more cases in New Zealand, we will. Eighty per cent have mild-to-medium symptoms and they’ll stay home.

"For those who need hospital care, we only want people who genuinely need it to be in our hospital system."

Ms Ardern also revealed the Government could enforce self-isolation, with police able to assist with quarantine powers.