The Government will soon begin ramping up its Covid-19 testing numbers to 5000 a day, says Health Minister David Clark.

That's a 1300, or 35 per cent, increase on the current 3750 daily testing limit.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that the scale of testing was not enough to be able to draw any conclusions about the true extent of community transmission.

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"Not only is it too soon to draw conclusions about New Zealand's position as we tackle this global pandemic, we also don't believe we have enough testing to tell us what we need to know," she told media.

"The more we test, the more it tells us how far our community transmission is, and where it is."

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Clark said New Zealand would continue to increase its testing capacity – "we will be at 5000 before too long".

He said by next week, the Government would ramp up testing by an extra 500, bringing the daily figure to 4200.

But he said that although the Government can do 3700 tests a day, "we have never got close to using all that capacity".

Public health professor Dr Michael Baker also called for the Government to move to 5000 tests a day – "maybe more".

"This is absolutely key to containing and eliminating this virus because those cases need to be rapidly isolated and the contacts have to be traced and quarantined," he told the station.

He said ramping up testing also provided "much needed information on the level of infection in the community and if there are regional hot spots that need more attention".


Clark was also talking up New Zealand's testing regime this morning.

"We're ahead of where other countries were at the same place on their epidemiological curve, so we're testing, for example, more than Germany per capita."

Although he admitted more needed to be done, he said that did not mean testing everyone who wants to be tested.

"There is no point testing people who don't have symptoms, who are unlikely to have the illness." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website