Leaked emails shows border workers are desperate for saliva testing

Source: 1News

Leaked emails from a border worker say they're desperate for saliva testing and have expressed their concerns to the Ministry of Health multiple times.

The saliva tests can pick up drugs like methamphetamine and even some prescription drugs.

They claim many are suffering from nose bleeds and anxiety with the nasal swabs.

The worker said their team had been proactive in taking guidance and wearing PPE.

They added that they have had "no opportunity to trial saliva testing" and they would take up the option.

The emails leaked to 1 NEWS comes after Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said there was a reluctance on the part of some workers to transition to more saliva tests.

“One of the pieces of feedback I've had so far is that given the choice between sticking with a weekly nasal swab or going to every second or third day saliva test, many of the workers who that's been discussed with have indicated they'd prefer to stick with the once a week nasal swab,” Hipkins said.

“There are some additional requirements around saliva testing including that you can't have cigarettes for a reasonable period before hand, you can’t eat beforehand and so on.”

Experts say the saliva test has a similar accuracy rate to nose swabs and right now it's offered voluntarily in MIQ facilities, but figures obtained by 1 NEWS shows in the last two months, only 38 saliva tests have been done.

“Well that's ridiculously low for such a non-invasive way of actually collecting samples to test for Covid, it should be our main go to way of collecting samples,” Auckland University professor Des Gorman said.

A high-powered report last September advised our government to have saliva testing up and running urgently.

“I would like to see it more widely used and I’ll continue to lean on the team to see if they can get that more widely deployed faster,” he said.

Today a fresh batch of vaccines arrived just in the nick of time as supplies were set to run out on Wednesday.

“If we had a scenario that we had a plane late or delayed then that could have caused us an issue,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“We are cutting it fine.”