Today, an additional 31,780 tests were processed, taking the total since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 to 5,005,959.
This really is an incredible and sustained team effort. Thousands of people make up our skilled workforce carrying out the testing.
It is because of the hard work and dedication of each of them, we have seen so many tests carried out, processed and followed up.
Thank you also to the millions of New Zealanders who have been tested, sometimes more than once.
Each one of those tests has contributed to our knowledge about the virus and its prevalence in New Zealand. To everyone who has been part of the process, thank you for your contribution. You have made a difference.
Our COVID-19 testing system is led by passionate staff, working in top-class laboratories producing accurate test results to international standards. New Zealand has been very well served by our testing system.
It underpinned our elimination strategy by relying on an accurate and highly sensitive test – namely the nasopharyngeal swab analysed by PCR to measure the presence of viral RNA.
New Zealand’s test positivity rate, a key measure of the effectiveness of the testing system, has consistently been among the lowest in the world, which gives us confidence we are missing few cases in the community.
This past week for example, New Zealand's positive rate has ranged from 0.41 and 1.03 percent.
PCR testing remains crucial as we introduce the COVID Protection Framework.
From this week, Rapid Antigen Tests has been made available to all businesses and health care settings in New Zealand to compliment PCR testing.
These tests can provide a result in 15 minutes but require a high viral load, so are more effective in the early stages of an individual’s infectious period. For asymptomatic surveillance testing two or three times a week is recommended.
The health advice is to continue to get a PCR test if you have COVID-19 symptoms. PCR tests are still more sensitive than Rapid Antigen Tests.
There are good supplies of these tests already in New Zealand, with another 3.8 million Rapid Antigen Tests in stock by the end of this week.
Testing will continue to be a cornerstone of our collective response to COVID-19.