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Government Flying Blind, New Testing Technology Needed

"The Government is flying blind with so little testing, it doesn’t know if unlinked or ‘mystery’ cases are exceptions, or the tip of a Delta iceberg,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government needs to rapidly roll out saliva testing and remove its absurd ban on importing self-testing immediately. With fewer than 5,000 tests in Auckland yesterday, it is otherwise flying blind.

“Today half of the new cases were unlinked. They may be found in time, but the number of unlinked cases is stubbornly persistent. A week ago there were 27 unlinked cases, today there are 34.

“The Prime Minister says that we ‘know where the majority of cases come from.’ That misses the point. To end the lockdown we need to be sure there is no community transmission. The Government clearly doesn’t know if that’s true.

“People are showing up to hospital with inexplicable cases. If there is undetected community transmission then the outbreak is not under control. The Director General says there is no widespread community transmission, but also that there are undetected chains of transmission. The truth is he cannot be sure, and he won’t be saying that tomorrow if the Government decides to continue Alert Level 4 in Auckland, which looks all but done.

“The uncertainty matters, because the Prime Minister will err on the side of caution making lockdown decisions. Her uncertainty is Aucklanders’ cost, and it’s measured in the billions.

“To avoid flying blind, the Government should be rolling out new testing, and not just saliva. It should be delivering tens of thousands of saliva tests each day, especially in areas of high risk.

“It should, as a matter of urgency, remove the absurd ban on New Zealanders importing self tests. Self testing is widely used offshore, and should be legalised in New Zealand so that Government and business alike can roll it out here. There should not be 5,000 tests in Auckland every day. There should be tens of thousands, but the Government will not achieve that sustainably if people have to drive to a centre and have a swab stuffed up their nasopharyngeal tract.

“The cost of ongoing lockdowns is too high to sustain just because the Government isn’t sure. We need to get with the program and use the same technology as the rest of the world to test more for greater certainty."

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