Kia ora koutou,
We have undertaken our regular review of our Testing Strategy and I’m writing to confirm that, for the period ending 27 January 2021, we’ll continue to focus our testing efforts on testing all people with symptoms of COVID-19 in all regions.
This continues our focus on testing:
- regions/groups that have been underrepresented in recent data, in particular Māori communities
- testing as part of any wider case or outbreak investigation, including targeting testing by geographic location or specific populations, if appropriate at the border, including testing border workers and those in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Testing during the holidays
I want to thank those of you who have already been working with the Ministry and DHBs to ensure there will be adequate testing capacity and public health measures in place throughout New Zealand to ensure that Kiwis will be able to holiday safely.
We are asking everyone to ensure that their plans recognise our collective need to continue to provide testing services during the summer break. It is important that these plans take into account the events planned and usual holiday patterns in your region.
Our latest Testing Strategy reflects expected increases to domestic travel and socialising over the coming weeks, particularly around the key public holidays in December and January.
In the leadup to this, and throughout the summer, we will be reminding people that tests for COVID-19 will be available throughout the holiday season, including on public holidays.
Please ensure that your holiday hours and practice information is up to date on Healthpoint.co.nz throughout the summer holiday period.
We will be referring people to Healthpoint for testing location information through Ministry communications and the NZ COVID Tracer app. Healthline also uses this resource to refer people to testing sites so it’s important that your hours and services are up to date over the holidays.
In addition to this, we are encouraging anyone with cold or flu symptoms to stay at home and get a test. They should continue to stay at home until they have a negative test result, regardless of where they live in New Zealand.
Testing numbers have remained consistent, with a minimum of 30,000 and potentially up to 40,000 tests per week, including the mandatory border testing. We expect these numbers to remain consistent but may need to increase up to more than 60,000 tests a week if there is any community transmission over the holiday period.
The full current advice for the period ending 27 January 2021 is available here.
As always, the assessment and testing for COVID-19 is at no cost to individuals.
It’s been an intense year and I’d like to acknowledge the increased workload and pressure that COVID-19 has created for us all. Thank you for your continued support and your efforts throughout the year to ensure that testing has been widely available and accessible throughout the country. Together, we’ve delivered a robust programme of testing nationwide that’s kept our communities and whanau safe.
I hope there will be an opportunity to rest your staff and take a well-deserved break.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield
Director-General of Health
Testing Operations | COVID-19 Immunisation, Testing and Supply | Ministry of Health