There are still no testing stations set up in the Bay of Plenty despite more than 1800 people being tested across between Wednesday and Thursday this week.

However, a University of Waikato professor does not believe testing stations are needed unless general practices become overwhelmed.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board incident controller Joe Bourne said current figures showed 801 people presented for testing on Thursday compared to a total of 1179 people on Wednesday.

He said of those, 1049 were swabbed on Wednesday.

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"There is a generally higher level of testing now compared to the lead-up to alert level 4."

When asked if this met the requirement of setting up a community-based assessment clinic (CABCs), Bourne said the Bay of Plenty DHB was working alongside general practitioners in regards to setting up dedicated testing centres if they become necessary.

Community-based assessment centres are not needed in the Bay of Plenty as yet, the DHB says. Photo / File
Community-based assessment centres are not needed in the Bay of Plenty as yet, the DHB says. Photo / File

"The Bay of Plenty DHB and local Primary Health Organisations are implementing a plan this weekend to ensure sufficient testing capacity at the weekend."

This will be accessible through general practice and Healthline, he said. The board had "advanced" plans to set up CBACs at short notice if they were required.

"We are monitoring the numbers of people presenting for testing and have plans in place to set up testing stations as required.

"If dedicated centres do become necessary, their location and hours of operation will be publicised."

Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive Lindsey Webber. Photo / Supplied
Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive Lindsey Webber. Photo / Supplied

Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive Lindsey Webber said demand for Covid-19 testing in the region this week had been "massive", with more than 1700 people swabbed over Wednesday and Thursday and large numbers expected on Friday.

The PHO has 31 general practices in its network, including three in Whakatāne.

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"We are working with our GPs to manage the demand and will be ramping up our testing capability for the weekend to support extra swabbing where needed."

Drive-through testing centres were not necessary in the Bay of Plenty at this stage. Photo / File
Drive-through testing centres were not necessary in the Bay of Plenty at this stage. Photo / File

And at this stage, Webber did not believe a drive-through community-based assessment centre, such as the one set up at Baypark earlier this year, was necessary.

Webber said people should also continue to contact their GP for their routine healthcare.

"It's still safe for doctors and nurses to see their patients and manage their normal healthcare, but at the same time manage this huge spike in demand for testing. Practices are taking all necessary precautions to keep patients safe."

University of Waikato professor of population health Ross Lawrenson told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend there was not a need for community-based assessment centres at this stage because community sampling was not a priority.

"What we're doing is looking for people with symptoms.

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"We're not at the stage where we're doing lots and lots of testing, what's going on is we are really keen for anybody with symptoms to get tested."

He said while there was always going to be concern in the community, over-testing at this stage could create a backlog in finding real positive results.

Tauranga City mayor Tenby Powell. Photo / File
Tauranga City mayor Tenby Powell. Photo / File

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said at the 1pm briefing yesterday non-symptomatic people or those who aren't in the "high-risk" priority group of border workers were slowing down testing and should stay at home.

Tauranga City Council mayor Tenby Powell told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend he did not believe a testing station was needed at this stage.

"The GP network is doing an absolutely amazing job.

"But if testing numbers jump up to the point that [GPs] can't continue, then the CBACs will be activated."

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