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Concerns New Zealanders becoming complacent about threat of second wave of Covid-19

There are concerns Kiwis are becoming too complacent about the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 in New Zealand, with test numbers remaining very low.

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Test numbers have dropped right down and doctors say many patients are refusing to have them. Source: 1 NEWS

On Thursday, 2400 swabs were taken, just over half of the Health Minister’s target of 4000 tests a day. 

The drop in enthusiasm comes with growing public confidence that the border is being managed.

In June, around the time it was reported two women had left managed isolation in Auckland to travel to Wellington after the death of a relative, testing demand peaked at around 10,000 a day. 

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Meanwhile, on Botany Road in the Auckland suburb of Botany, a Covid-19 community testing centre will wind down on Saturday as demand dwindles. The site was once one of the country’s busiest testing stations, with thousands of people passing through a day.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said one of the issues leading to the low testing numbers was that “people are reluctant to be tested”.

Half of GPs are also reporting encountering patients refusing swabs, according to a new survey of 800 doctors.

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Dr John Cameron from Westmere Medical Centre in Auckland said the tests could be uncomfortable, which could discourage people from getting a test.

“Nobody likes that thing being thrust backwards into their nose,” he said.

“It is an uncomfortable thing to have done. So, people do not like that. Sometimes that's stopping them coming and presenting.”

But, Dr Cameron said the discomfort is over in a split second, and it was worth it to help the country.

Some GPs are getting sick of testing too, and said it was disruptive to primary care.

1 NEWS has confirmed two separate examples in the past week where patients who met the criteria for a swab were told not to bother.

But Mr Hipkins said he wanted doctors and people to keep up their efforts.

“I don't want to be critical of the New Zealand public here, but I am issuing an appeal to the public that we've all got to stay on guard and play our part,” he said.

Kurt Krause, a Professor of biochemistry at the University of Otago, also urged people to continue getting tested.

“Even though there's been no community transmission that's been identified, if someone were to slip through the system, if we didn't have community testing, cases could go undetected for a long time,” he said.