Snaking queues for Covid-19 tests are putting patients trying to get to one Auckland medical centre at risk, says an expectant mum.
Amelia Molloy told the Herald that she is becoming increasingly concerned about the unrelenting queues clogging roads leading to the community testing site in the carpark of the Botany Downs Maternity Unit.
With her second child due in under seven weeks, and dealing with a high-risk pregnancy, the 27-year-old Clevedon mum said the sudden surge in testing demand meant all hospital patients and outpatients faced being trapped in traffic.
"It's just absolutely insane," she said.
Health officials say they are reviewing the number of testing stations across Auckland after a spike in people wanting to be tested for Covid-19.
Since new cases have been confirmed in New Zealand, the number of tests received last week across Northland and Auckland were similar to the volumes received during lockdown.
Auckland has half the number of testing stations that it did during the lockdown in March and April.
Molloy she had waited on a side road for more than half an hour before inching out past the queued traffic.
Molloy said her concerns were growing as she came closer to her due date.
"I'm really worried I'm going to end up in labour and we get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and being a high-risk pregnancy I am going to end up giving birth roadside putting my baby in jeopardy."
Up until recently, there had barely been more than three cars at any one time.
She said those heading to the community clinic were reluctant to give an inch allowing her to bypass the queue to enter the maternity carpark. "It's ridiculous they are there. I understand everyone needs to get tested but there's got to be a better way."
There have been reports of heavy congestion around East Auckland today and St Lukes testing stations. Auckland Transport urged drivers to avoid the areas.
Motorists have complained about lengthy delays on local Facebook pages this week.
Resident Nicola Harris shared a photo taken at 8.10am of a massive queue along Aviemore Dr.
She told the Herald it took her about half an hour to get from Aviemore Rd to Botany Rd yesterday and today — which is usually a drive that takes three minutes without traffic.
She added that what is usually 11-minute drive to East Care A&E from the Pakuranga Highway took her friend, who works there, took at least an hour.
"This queue is the traffic congestion due to the location of the testing station," she said.
"I don't believe all these cars were waiting to be tested. It's just the traffic due to the station chaos."
Harris also called for the testing station to be moved to a more appropriate place, and many agreed. A spokesperson for the Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau district health boards said they were aware that the high demand for Covid-19 testing is leading to unprecedented queues at many of its community-based testing centres (CBACs).
"We are very aware of the impact on the communities where these are situated and want to thank local residents and commuters for their patience. We are working closely with community police and Auckland Transport to address these impacts," the spokesperson said.
"At the Spectrum House CBAC on Botany Rd, new traffic management plans were put in place yesterday and these are regularly reviewed and updated."
The spokesperson said in response to the demand for community testing the the boards are also reviewing the number and location of CBACs across the city.
"We have the capacity to test everyone who meets the national criteria for Covid-19 testing plan for longer than usual wait times at our CBACs.
"Our CBAC teams are working tirelessly to meet the current demand and are testing people as quickly as possible."
They added that people should call Healthline or their GP to see if they need to be tested or not.
"There is no community spread in Auckland and the only members of the general public who need to be tested are those who have symptoms of Covid-19 and meet the Ministry of Health's high index of suspicion (HIT) criteria.
"Testing of people in managed isolation and quarantine or working in these facilities is managed separately."
Between June 15 and 21, 17,247 tests were received for processing at labs across the northern region (Northland and Auckland), the spokesperson added.
This compares with 17,921 for the week May 4-10, which was the region's biggest week to date.
Yesterdaywas the Northern Region's busiest day to date with 4680 tests received, which include those done at CBACs, GPs, urgent care clinics, managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and by mobile testing units.
The spokesperson added that during March and April, a total of 14 testing centres were set up in Auckland.
Auckland currently has seven community-based testing centres, and four are open seven days a week. All centres are equally busy with consistent testing numbers.
In March and April, Northland had seven testing centres. The region now has six CBACs, and Whangerei is the busiest.
"There is also significant testing by primary care and mobile testing units. These options continue to ensure good geographical coverage and capacity for Covid-19 testing for our communities," the spokesperson said.