Media advisory #29 Significant boost in Whanganui testing rates


Whanganui DHB Chief Executive Russell Simpson

24 April 2020


The significant boost in COVID-19 testing over the past two weeks has provided reassurance that the Alert Level 4 lockdown measures in the Whanganui region have been effective, says Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Russell Simpson.


The adoption of a broader case definition and using a more liberal approach has resulted in a rapid increase in the testing rate.


At the community-based assessment centres (CBACs), for the 14-day period up to Thursday, April 23, 769 people have been swabbed which represents 79 per cent of those attending.


“It is pleasing that we have been able to ramp up our testing rates, and that we have still only had eight positive cases and one probable in the region,” said Mr Simpson.


“It shows that the lockdown – people staying home and staying in their bubbles – has helped keep our community safe.


“And, of course, we are still at Alert Level 4, so people must remain vigilant and stick to the rules.”


Mr Simpson said given the numbers presenting to the CBACs for assessment, Whanganui District Health Board was confident it was testing a wide range of people across the community and there was no current need for random testing in settings such as supermarkets.


“The Whanganui District Health Board has not undertaken widespread community testing, like that seen in elsewhere. We have not had any clusters or widespread community transmission. The DHB will mobilise community testing if there is a need.”


He said it was encouraging to see a growing number of people attending the CBACs. “We want anyone with a runny nose, sore throat or cough to come in for assessment.”


With the country moving to Alert Level 3 on Tuesday, Mr Simpson advised there was a risk of more people moving about in the region.


“Our community should adhere to the guidelines to prevent unnecessary exposure, including not travelling in or out of the region unless you are an essential worker,” he said.


The following CBACs continue to assess and test people for COVID-19:

· Whanganui – Whanganui Hospital campus, 100 Heads Road – 8am to 9pm, seven days a week

· Whanganui - Gonville Health, Abbot Street - 9am to 4pm weekdays

· Whanganui - Te Oranganui Medical Centre, Wicksteed Street – 8.30am – 5pm weekdays (for those enrolled with Te Oranganui Trust services as well as other Iwi organisations and services)

· Taihape - Taihape Health - 9am to 4.30pm weekdays

· Ruapehu - Raetihi Community Space, 42 Seddon Street - 9am to 4.30pm weekdays


While in the Rangitikei district, people with symptoms should contact Stewart Street Surgery, 26 Stewart Street, Marton, phone 06 327 8884; or Bulls Medical Centre, 71 High Street, Bulls, phone 06 322 122.


PLEASE NOTE: On Monday, 27 April, Anzac Day is observed and only the CBAC at the Whanganui Hospital will be open.


People needing welfare support from across the Whanganui region should use existing support networks if they have them. For additional welfare support call:


· Whanganui District - call 06 349 0001 - this line operates 8am to 5pm with an after-hours response outside these hours.

· Horizons – call 0800 725 678 – this line is available from 7am until 7pm, seven days a week.

· Ruapehu south (Waimarino) - call 06 385 8364 – this line is available 24/7.

· Te Ranga Tupua Collective Iwi Response for help, advice and support for whānau in the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, Mōkai Pātea and South Taranaki Region - call 0800 202 004 – this line is available 24/7


People who are sick should call their GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453, or visit a community-based assessment centre. For further information on COVID-19, go to