Nelson Marlborough Health News and Notices

Targeted surveillance testing starts this week


As at 4 May, almost 3,000 predominantly-symptomatic people have been tested for COVID-19 in the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough regions.

This update gives an overview of the current testing available, testing completed, and the future direction for the surveillance testing of asymptomatic people.

Assessment and testing is currently available for symptomatic people via:

  • Five designated community-based centres, and two testing sites at rural health centres
  • General practitioners at medical centres and urgent care or after-hours clinics
  • Emergency departments for patients with emergency health needs, who have COVID-19 symptoms 
  • SWOOP teams. These are on-call mobile GP/nursing teams who provide assessment, testing, advice and care for people who cannot go to a testing centre

Other types of symptomatic testing completed to date are:

  • Targeted mobile outreach to marae (assessment for all and testing of any symptomatic people)
  • Targeted rural outreach – ‘pop-up’ testing held in six rural Marlborough locations over two days
  • Targeted mobile outreach testing for vulnerable populations who live in high-density accommodation, and transitional and emergency accommodation. Residents were screened for health and welfare needs and referred for testing as required.

A new direction: Asymptomatic surveillance testing
At the request of the Ministry of Health, NMH will commence a programme of asymptomatic testing for targeted groups – groups that have been identified as ‘higher risk’ through analysis of NMH case distribution. The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service has been working with the Ministry of Health team to determine who should be included for asymptomatic testing in our region. Subsequently:

The priority groups for the week starting 4 May are:

  1. International travellers returning to the NMH region
  2. Essential workers who have been in direct contact with a confirmed case, including hospital, primary care, ambulance, welfare support staff, community-based assessment centre staff and police 
  3. New World Stoke supermarket workers who have not already been tested since a worker was confirmed as a case 
  4. Staff at a vineyard where there was a link to a positive case
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