A third Covid-19 testing station opened in Otara this morning amid concerns the coronavirus may spread in the South Auckland area, home to a large Pasifika community.
Before today, the region's only testing stations were in Takanini and Mangere.
Overseeing the clinic is Dr Andrew Chan Mow, clinical director for South Seas Healthcare. He says the Otara community has the largest proportion of Pacific Island people.
“That comes with high needs, both health and social," he told 1 NEWS. "Because of that, a lot of people don’t have access to transport to go to other testing centres which are at least half an hour away.”
He said the new testing centre, which had cars lining up at 7.30am, is purposely built for the local community as well as those in surrounding areas.
Located at the popular Otara Flea Market site, the area would normally be filled with shoppers but now people are lining up amid concerns about the virus.
“Particularly we are looking at people with flu-like symptoms – because the case definition has been relaxed by the ministry," Dr Chan Mow said.
Testing is now available for people with respiratory problems suggestive of Covid-19 regardless of their travel history or contact with a confirmed of probable case, and fever is no longer a requirement.
Dr Chan Mow said people with fevers, a cough, sore throat or short of breath need to get tested but those who were asymptomatic did not need to be swabbed for Covid-19.
“Because most of our people are living in impoverished housing states, they are living in overcrowded conditions, so it’s a perfect environment for a virus like that to just breathe through a household in the blink of an eye,” he said.
“The whole point of this is to support our community. You are not alone in this.”
The Otara testing station is open weekdays from 8am to 4pm and weekends 9am to 3pm.