COVID testing at POT to get underway

The Port of Tauranga. Photo: Daniel Hines/SunLive.

COVID-19 testing is due to begin at the Port of Tauranga at midday.

The Ministry of Health issued an order on Friday night saying people who are not tested before the midnight deadline, will not be penalised.

“It's important that we take a flexible approach to our response to allow us to test as many of those as possible at our borders,” says Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“Our border workers play an important role in doing their jobs and keeping us safe. Comprehensive testing will provide one further assurance of this and it is pragmatic to take a few more days to ensure we've tested as many of our port workers as possible."

A Port of Tauranga spokesperson says the DHB is setting up right now.

“We are expecting the DHB to start testing around midday, with first priority given to those who interact with ships (pilots, stevedores and ships' agents).

“Testing is by appointment only.”

When asked if testing will be done by midnight tonight, the port spokesperson says “it won’t be”.

Testing is getting underway following a government order where all workers who have visited the Port of Tauranga or Ports of Auckland since 11.59pm on July 21, must be screened for COVID-19.

At Tauranga, this affects up to 6000 individuals.

“We have set up a facility on site for the DHB to use as a testing station.

“Their resources are limited so testing will be by appointment only.

“We will contact employers with testing times.”

A facility has been set up in a building just inside the Hull Road gate.

EOC Incident Controller, Dr Joe Bourne says while port staff are awaiting their test results, they can continue to work.

“Across the Bay of Plenty, general practice and Pathlab have continued to assess and test people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

“Whilst those services have been busy, the numbers have been manageable and there is capacity for anyone who does present with symptoms.”

The COVID-19 symptoms include: a cough; a high temperature (at least 38C); shortness of breath; a sore throat; sneezing and runny nose; temporary loss of smell.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board’s Interim CE Simon Everitt says they will be prioritising port staff who have been on-board a vessel in the last 14 days and/or those who have been in direct contact with crew. Testing will begin next week.

“Port of Tauranga staff will be contacted by their company to allocate them a testing slot.

“If a staff member is unwell or has symptoms, please seek treatment from their GP and remain off work. In the meantime we acknowledge the uncertainty that workers have being feeling about how to organise their tests.

“We ask that people be patient as they will be able to get tested over the next week, and that people wait for further instructions from their employers, and allow general practices to focus on testing those people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and require testing.”

Here is what people who need testing need to know:

  • If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, stay home and contact your GP to arrange a test​
  • If you are well, please wait for further instructions about testing at the Port. There’s no need to seek a test elsewhere if you live in Tauranga
  • Priority will be given to those workers who may have had contact with ships’ crew. You will be notified via your employer about when to come in for a test
  • You can continue to work while you wait for your test, and while you are waiting for the results
  • The test will be free
  • You won’t be penalised if you don’t meet the Government’s deadline.
  • You will need your NHI number and photo identification for testing on site. Your GP will know your NHI number if you don’t have it
  • Please don’t turn up for testing at the Port without an appointment.



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