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COVID-19 community testing centre starts in Tauranga
24 March 2020

A drive-in only community assessment centre for coronavirus (COVID-19) opened in Tauranga today.

The centre allows people with suspected COVID-19 symptoms to drive directly to the centre to be assessed.

The centre opened at Tauranga Racecourse this morning and will be open from 9am-6pm, seven days a week. A deliberate ‘soft opening’ was in place today to test systems and ensure it works well.

The centre has been set up to allow other medical centres, general practices (GPs) and Tauranga Hospital to continue providing health services to the public without the threat of COVID-19 transmission.

The Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC) is for people who are unwell; it is not a general swabbing centre.

Who should go to the CBAC?

  • People with acute respiratory illness

  • People with flu-like illness/infection with no other plausible cause for the symptoms than COVID-19


Who will not be seen?

  • Anyone NOT acutely unwell. Advice will continue to be provided through Healthline and written information will be provided while people are in the CBAC queue where appropriate.

  • Chronic disease management. Patients with existing chronic disease and no COVID-19 symptoms should contact their usual GP.

  • Infective illness not likely to be COVID-19

People should seek advice from Healthline 0800 358 5453 or their GP before attending the centre to check whether their symptoms meet the criteria for assessment and will need to arrive by private vehicle as no walk-ins will be accepted. People with symptoms are advised not to use public transport to travel to the centre.

Medical staff will assess people for COVID-19 symptoms, carry out testing if appropriate, offer advice for treatment and refer on if necessary.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board interim chief executive Simon Everitt says it is important that people attending the centre stay in their cars on arrival and follow any instructions they are given.

“We need to protect the health of both our healthcare workers and other people around us. We don’t want people walking into the centre or using public transport to get there. If you are unable to travel to the centre, we will make alternative arrangements for you.

“Ideally people with symptoms will attend the centre on their own, or caregivers will bring any children who are unwell. People too unwell to drive will also need a caregiver with them, but that person will then need to go into self-isolation too, depending on whether the person is a likely case or not.”

Everitt says we all need to unite against COVID-19 to slow its spread.

“We would remind people to wash their hands often, with soap, for 20 seconds, and dry thoroughly. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. And most importantly, stay home if you are sick and phone Healthline 0800 358 5453 or your GP if you have any concerns.”

Questions and answers:

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • a fever (at least 38°C) 

  • a cough

  • shortness of breath.

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.

If you have these symptoms phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

What does assessment for COVID-19 involve?

Assessment involves gathering information about a person’s symptoms and history. Some examination might be needed but this is minimised to reduce risk of infection spreading. A swab will be taken if necessary but this will not always be the case. If another condition is diagnosed, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Should I be in self-isolation?

Yes. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and are awaiting test results you should be self-isolating.

Self-isolation means staying at home and taking simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible - like you would with the flu. Keep yourself out of any situation where you come into face-to-face contact with others who are less than one metre away or make any contact that lasts longer than 15 minutes.

Where do I go for reliable information about COVID-19?

The covid19.govt.nz website is the one source of truth for information about COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Last modified: 26 Mar 2020
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