Officials fire back as Dr Lance O'Sullivan lashes out at lack of Covid-19 response in Kaitaia

Claims by well-known Northland doctor Lance O’Sullivan, that there are only two Covid-19 testing kits available in the whole of Kaitaia, have been rubbished by the District Health Board.

The former New Zealander of the Year was taking a patient of his to be tested when he discovered Kaitaia's Covid-19 testing station was closed this weekend.

In the Facebook Live video, he says the patient has almost certainly contracted the coronavirus.

“He’s been unwell for six days with fevers, he’s been in contact with a confirmed Covid case, he’s developed a cough and he’s got hypertension,” Dr O'Sullivan says.

He goes on to say the patient has a back seat full of food from the Kaitaia supermarket.

“This is no criticism of this guy but he’s been shopping and he’s been unwell,” says Dr O’Sullivan.

The GP goes on to say  he can’t get the man tested because community testing in Kaitaia is only available on a weekday.

“Kaitaia if you have Covid you wait till Monday." 

On taking the patient to Kaitaia Hospital to test them himself, Dr O'Sullivan claims he was told by hospital staff only four test swabs were available.

"I've got three and two patients in The Warehouse carpark that need to be swabbed," he says.

"That means there's two in all of Kaitaia. So those people who are out of there at the moment and you need to be tested for Covid, come in fast."

Dr O'Sullivan said his patient had links to a positive case and was now showing symptoms. 

"This patient, if he tests positive, we would be able to say to him 'you've got to stay home you can't do shopping'.

"I'm not critical of him, I'm critical of the system."

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He says the Government needs to be testing more people especially in the Far North where he feels the number of tests being conducted is lacking. 

"We will be able to swab these ones today, but we're not going to be able to swab anyone this afternoon."  


Neta Smith, the operational manager at Kaitaia Hospital, says he’s wrong and they in fact have 120 Covid testing kits available.

She says the hospital’s after-hour service is running 24 hours, seven days a week and if  someone is unwell and they need to be seen, they will be seen and tested.

“Anyone with acute respiratory infection and at least one of the systems will be tested for Covid-19, we have adequate supplies and equipment and currently available at Kaitaia Hospital,” says Ms Smith. 

"We are working very hard with iwi, Māori providers, GPs, the Council and other social agencies to ensure we can provide the best possible support for our Far North communities."

Speaking to 1 NEWS today, Northland's DHB Chief Executive Nick Chamberlain reiterated those remarks and said if a person is sick, they will be tested.

He says there is no demand for another community testing station as there currently is no cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Kaitaia. 

"We do not need two testing centres in Kaitaia, but we may need to transition to another site in the community if Kaitaia Hospital gets busy with Covid-19 cases." 

There are currently 14 Covid-19 cases in Northland, including one probable case.

None are being treated at hospital.