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Public Asked To Call Their GP First Regarding COVID-19 Testing

The public is being asked to continue seeking medical advice for COVID-19 symptoms through their GP in the first instance.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) COVID-19 Response Incident Controller Dr Joe Bourne said he understood people’s desire to be tested currently but people should only be getting tested if they are symptomatic. If they are symptomatic they should contact their GP.

“If you are symptomatic with respiratory illness please continue to contact your usual General Practice, who will do a telephone triage,” said Dr Bourne. “You may then be directed to have a face-to-face consult which may include a COVID-19 test being taken at the practice. Alternatively, you might be asked to go to your nearest Pathlab for a COVID-19 test.”

COVID-related assessment through your GP is free, added Dr Bourne.

Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs)

The BOPDHB is working alongside GPs around setting up dedicated testing centres when they become necessary.

“We are monitoring the numbers of people presenting for testing and will look to set up Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs) as required,” said Dr Bourne. “If dedicated centres do become necessary their location and hours of operation will be publicised.”

In the Eastern Bay of Plenty, some mobile pop-up testing centres have already been set-up by Te Puna Ora o Mataatua (TPOOM). In the Western Bay of Plenty, the kaupapa Māori mobile testing unit – Pahi Tahi (which services rural and vulnerable communities) will begin operating again next week.

“The mobile centres are available to do simple swabbing of patients who were not able to get a test at their General Practice or Pathlab,” said Dr Bourne.

He said there were some points to note about the mobile centres and the service available:

• Those with any symptoms will be tested.

• Unwell people will be redirected back to their usual General Practice for a full assessment.

• Medical certificates for employees/employers will not be provided.

• If people do not have symptoms they are unlikely to be swabbed.

What are the COVID-19 symptoms?

Symptoms include:

• a cough

• a high temperature of at least 38°C

• shortness of breath

• sore throat

• sneezing and runny nose

• temporary loss of smell.

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. Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

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