The Government’s own independent technical advisors on testing have slammed the Government’s inaction on using saliva
testing and rapid antigen testing, says National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.
“In September last year the Simpson/Roche report called on the Government to roll out saliva testing as a priority, but
now, more than a year later, it is only just getting going and Rako Science’s efforts to partner with the Government for
surge capacity surveillance testing have been rebuffed.
“Rapid antigen testing has been effectively banned in New Zealand by Government fiat, with a trial only recently
starting at hospitals in Auckland.
“The Government’s inaction on using different testing techniques has been disgraceful and this has been confirmed by the
government’s independent technical advisory group on testing.
“Professor David Murdoch said explicitly today that New Zealand ‘could have been better prepared’ for using new and
different tests like saliva tests and rapid antigen tests.
“It is good to see the Government belatedly moving on saliva and rapid antigen testing. National’s ‘Opening Up’ plan
contains detailed recommendations for the use of saliva and rapid testing and we encourage the Government to pick them
“Saliva PCR testing should be rolled out daily for border workers, for residents in MIQ facilities, and for surge
capacity resource in an outbreak like we are seeing right now. Saliva testing is being used at private hospitals in
Auckland right now and we should be doing the same in public hospitals.
“We had the capacity to do thousands of saliva tests during this most recent outbreak and yet the government said no.
All this at a time when people lined up for 10-12 hours at a time and many people gave up altogether.
“Rapid antigen testing should be being used for all essential workers including healthcare workers, aged care support
staff, supply chain (transportation, ports and airports), emergency first responders, and high-risk customer-facing
roles such as in supermarkets, schools and universities.
“Recently, a truck driver tested positive for Covid after visiting Palmerston North. He was tested on October 1 and
before that on September 24. He is considered to have been infectious since September 28. If he was required to do a
daily rapid antigen test, there was a good chance he would have been picked up earlier than he was. This is a perfect
demonstration of where rapid antigen tests can help with our response.
“The Government’s belated activity in this area is good news but has come way too late for New Zealanders suffering
through this extended lockdown.”