The Hawke's Bay District Health Board's first community-based assessment centre (CBAC) is now open for business.

The Hastings-based centre is the first to open.

The DHB is reiterating the centres are "not" drop-in centres and anyone turning up without an appointment will be turned away.

Medical officer of Health Nick Jones said CBACs were part of the district health boards' pandemic plans nationwide.

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"The centres have been established as a matter of urgency to manage the high demand for testing of people in self isolation who have developed symptoms of Covid-19," Jones said.

"The CBACs aim to take some of the load off general practices, that are already very busy, and will get busier now that the flu immunisation is available.

"I want to stress CBAC's are not a drop-in centre and if people do just turn up, they will be turned away. We must make sure the people who need to be assessed are able to, and that the centres are not being overwhelmed."

When and how to use a community-based assessment centre:

People with coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms should phone Healthline (0800 358 5453) or their GP first.

The Healthline advisor or GP will confirm if someone requires assessment and testing for Covid-19 at a CBAC.

If the GP or Healthline think they need testing a CBAC team member will call them to make a time for them to come to the centre and be assessed.

If someone is unable to get to a CBAC the GP will make alternative arrangements for testing.