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

COVID-19 testing continues at general practice as community based testing centres close

Wednesday 26 August 2020


Call 0800 VIRUS 19 (0800 847 8719) to access COVID-19 testing


Southern residents are encouraged to contact their general practice or call 0800 VIRUS19 to access free COVID-19 testing if they have symptoms.

 Community Based Testing Centres in Invercargill and Dunedin are scaling back their operations as of 4pm today, as most symptomatic people are choosing to access testing at general practices, rather than the temporary testing sites.


WellSouth opened the CBTC in Invercargill and Dunedin in response to a brief increase in people seeking COVID testing, immediately following the change in Alert Levels on 12 August.  

 “We opened the drive through testing centres to ensure there was convenient access to COVID swabbing. It’s now clear there is enough testing capacity in the system, so the CBTCs aren’t required at this point,” says WellSouth CEO Andrew Swanson-Dobbs.

 “We’ve demonstrated that the plans Southern Health System has in place work effectively: We can scale up quickly to provide the extra testing when it is needed – whether a community-based testing centre or pop-up testing clinic. If we need to increase testing capacity again, we will do so.”


Southern health authorities are continuing to urge people to get tested if they have symptoms and can call 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719) to be referred for testing. Testing is free and available 7 days per week throughout Otago and Southland at your own general practice or at a designated practice. A designated practice is open to all patients for testing even if you are not enrolled with that practice Check Where to get tested

 Dr Susan Jack, Medical Officer of Health, Southern DHB said it is important that people are not complacent and if they have symptoms to get tested: “With the prospect of increased travel around the country, it is now more crucial than ever that anyone in Southern with symptoms arranges a COVID test immediately. Please don’t assume it is just a cold and won’t happen in our community. We need people to do the responsible thing for themselves, their loved ones and for the whole community to ensure elimination of this virus.  Please get tested, maintain physical distancing, have good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene and wear a mask in enclosed spaces.”


Testing is free and it’s accessible, says WellSouth Medical Director Dr Stephen Graham, so there is no reason not to be tested: “If you have symptoms, get tested. If you are offered a COVID test, please accept. People do not have to self-isolate but if you are sick you should stay home until you are symptom-free – just as you would with any cough or cold.”


Andrew says primary care should be commended for continuing to meet the need for COVID testing here and elsewhere in New Zealand: “We are grateful to general practice teams who continue to make COVID testing accessible to the communities they serve, in addition to their regular clinical work.”

 COVID testing in Southern:


  • If you have symptoms, get tested
  • COVID-19 testing is FREE
  • Testing is available throughout the region, including at weekends
  • Call your GP or 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 8478719)

  Who should be tested for COVID -19?

  • Anyone with symptoms
  • Border staff or workers from Managed Isolation Facilities
  • Anyone identified by public health as a contact or for another reason and asked to be tested
  • Health Care Workers should ensure that symptomatic HCW is noted on the laboratory form

 The latest case definition and testing guidance for COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health can be found here.






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