The Government says it has ordered enough new rapid antigen test kits (RATS) to get the country through any looming Omicron outbreak.
Opposition parties have been complaining lately over perceived failures in the acquisition and delivery of the tests. Today, a major business group also voiced frustration.
As New Zealand approached what some hoped might be the tail-end of the pandemic, 36 million extra RATS had been secured, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
Many rapid tests will be used in a "test to return" policy, she said.
This policy was aimed at asymptomatic critical workers - so hospitals, supermarkets and other essential services could keep operating.
One batch of 29 million RATS is from a company called Kudu Spectrum and a batch of 16 million is from a firm called CoShield.
Verrall said New Zealand would actually have access to more than 55 million RATS over the next eight weeks, because 16.9 million other orders were already confirmed.
Only 5.1 million tests were already in the country.
But Verrall said a total of 123 million RATS have been ordered through to June.
She said when the Omicron outbreak peaked, Kiwis could get through more than one million RATS a day.
"That scale of testing will go a long way to reducing the risk of an infected person going to work and infecting others, and will help with keeping critical services and supply chains open and moving."
Verrall said another test supplier called Abbott had confirmed the Government had not commandeered any tests intended for the private sector.
"There is significant global supply constraint at the moment so the Government is working alongside business to assist with ensuring orders are met," she said.
"If businesses can find an approved supply of RATS and they can import them, there is nothing stopping businesses from using these tests."
But Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said many private companies were displeased about having no current access to RATS.
"If you're in manufacturing, operations and a wide range of customer-facing sectors, work from home is not feasible," Barnett said today.
"The enablers to keep these critical functions and jobs secured are rapid antigen tests."
National Party leader Christopher Luxon this morning said he wanted free RATS in schools.
Last month he said people had been talking about RATS for many months but no real progress had been made on distributing the kits.