A drive-in only community assessment centre for coronavirus Covid-19 opened in Tauranga this morningto help take pressure off GPs and Tauranga Hospital.
The centre has been established at the Tauranga Racecourse by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
The board said it would allow people with suspected Covid-19 symptoms to drive directly to the centre to be assessed, between 9am and 6pm every day.
The centre has been set up to allow other medical centres, general practices and the hospital to provide health services to the public without the threat of Covid-19 transmission.
GPs will remain open during the lockdown but will do more consultations by phone, email or video.
People who needed a face-to-face appointment will still get one, but those with appointments coming up have been asked to wait for their GP's office to call and discuss whether it needed to be in-person.
The assessment centre is for people who are unwell and is not a general swabbing centre.
People should only visit if they have an acute respiratory illness or a flu-like illness/infection with no other plausible cause for the symptoms than Covid-19.
People may be turned away if they do not fit this criteria, including people who are not acutely unwell, have existing chronic diseases and no Covid-19 symptoms, or have an infective illness not likely to be the virus.
People were advised to call Healthline or their GP before attending the centre to check whether their symptoms meet the assessment criteria. Written information will be provided while people are in the assessment centre queue where appropriate.
Medical staff at the centre will check people for Covid-19 symptoms, test if appropriate and offer advice for treatment or referrals.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board interim chief executive Simon Everitt said it was important people coming to the centre stayed in their cars on arrival and followed instructions to protect healthcare workers.
"We don't want people walking into the centre or using public transport to get there. If you are unable to travel to the centre, we will make alternative arrangements for you."
Ideally people would come on their own or with a caregiver who would also need to go into self-isolation if their charge was a likely case.
"We would remind people to wash their hands often, with soap, for 20 seconds, and dry thoroughly. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. And most importantly, stay home if you are sick and phone Healthline 0800 358 5453 or your GP."
Symptoms of Covid-19
• a fever (at least 38°C)
• a cough
• shortness of breath.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have Covid-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.
If you have these symptoms phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.
Assessment for Covid-19 involves gathering information about a person's symptoms and history, with a minimal examination if necessary and a swab taken in some cases.
Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or awaiting a test result should be self-isolating - staying at home and avoiding close (within one metre) contact with people or any contact that lasts more than 15 minutes.