Testing clinic up and running

by Andy Bryenton

Facilities to test patients for Covid-19 coronavirus have been established at Dargaville Hospital for more than a week now as part of a coordinated push to eradicate the disease from our population. 

The testing unit, situated outside the outpatients’ entrance to the hospital, has been open since Wednesday, March 25, and has seen a steady stream of patients seeking assurances about their condition.

A deliberate distance between the ‘Portacom’ outbuilding used for tests and the hospital proper helps ensure a safe gap between those who may be infected and those hospitalised for other reasons. Front line staff who are working at the testing facility were pleased to note that there was no panic or rush as soon as they opened, with people heeding official advice to only present to the clinic if symptoms met specific criteria.

This advice still holds true as the testing clinic continues its work. People are advised to come to be tested if they have the following symptoms: fever, shortness of breath, a cough and a sore throat, and if they have been overseas within the past two weeks or work in healthcare. It’s also advisable to be tested if you suffer the above symptoms and know you have come into contact with a confirmed case. It is vital that all those tested strictly self-isolate until their test results come through. At the clinic itself, those who arrive to be tested are asked to remain in their cars until approached by medical staff, in order to minimise the risk of transfer.

Northland District Health Board say that the main reason for testing only those who fit within the current criteria is twofold — well people should not expose themselves to the outdoors or the presence of those who may be ill if at all unnecessary. Secondly, the use of test kits on people who are unlikely to have Covid-19 means fewer kits available to test those who are at high risk. 

For all the information about self-assessment of symptoms, the testing regime and how to stay safe during the level four lockdown — visit covid19.govt.nz.