To access COVID-19 testing, call 0800 VIRUS 19. For up-to-date information on COVID-19: Click Here

Call Centre and 0800 VIRUS19 number to streamline local COVID-19 testing

Wednesday 15 April 2020


A new centralised call service and free phone number – 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719) – is helping streamline assessment and possible testing for COVID-19 in the Southern region.


The new service based at WellSouth’s Dunedin office began receiving calls on Thursday and is making it easier for patients to inquire about and to access COVID-19 testing. The new service also helps ensure that patients who don’t need testing, will not have to ‘leave their bubble’ unnecessarily.


Six phone lines are staffed by clinicians who assess and triage patients and refer, where appropriate, for testing. Patients can go on to be tested at a Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC), their own general practice or a designated practice, whichever is most appropriate and convenient.


“We want to encourage patients with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested - and we want to help that happen as safely as possible,” says Stephen Graham, WellSouth Medical Director.


“By centralising calls, we can make it quicker and easier for people to understand if they need to be tested and if so where is the best place for them to go.”

Testing for COVID-19 is being conducted by most general practices, at three CBACs in the Southern region – in Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill. There are also six Designated Practices where people who don’t have a GP, or who don’t know who their doctor is, can be referred for testing. These are: Fiordland Medical Centre, He Puna Waiora Wellness Centre, Kurow Medical, Mosgiel Health Centre, Te Kāika, and Wanaka/Aspiring medical centres.

“General practice teams and primary care providers are doing an amazing job of supporting patients and families in Otago and Southland during the COVID-19 outbreak and we want to help support them to do their work,” Dr Graham says.


“Patients should continue to call Healthline (0800 358 5453) or their own general practice for advice. But 0800VIRUS19 is another resource at their disposal.”


Who should get tested?


Covid-19 Case Definition Criteria: (As of 14 April):


Primary COVID-19 symptoms are a fever, sore throat, dry cough and/or trouble breathing.


Other symptoms may include headache, body aches, nausea/diarrhoea, irritability/confusion not explained by a medical condition.

(Taken from the most recent case


Please note the COVID-19 case definition and testing protocols are constantly evolving.

These criteria may change. Updates will be documented at the direction of public health officials. Subject to change according to the direction of the Medical Officer of Health.)

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