The New Zealand Initiative welcomes the Government’s plans to ramp up testing for COVID-19 beyond 3500 per day to get the country closer to reopening its economy.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press briefing this afternoon the Government has completed approximately 21,000 tests for the coronavirus Covid-19 already and is on track to issue 3500 tests per day.

But Ardern said authorities weren’t testing widely enough to accurately judge the location of community outbreaks and has expanded the case definition criteria to people without any known association to overseas travel.

The New Zealand Initiative Chief Economist Dr Eric Crampton commented on the Government’s planned response to increase COVID-19 testing.

“The Government’s increase in planned testing is laudable. But we (The Initiative) continue to be worried by reports from clinics and doctors that tests are not being undertaken even when recommended by physicians. Every person recommended for testing by physicians should be able to be tested. Moving forward, we need to build capacity for even broader testing to be able to stay on top of the pandemic as we move out of Level Four lockdown,” says Crampton.

Ardern says testing will be widened to people with COVID-19 symptoms, but not necessarily a history of travel or exposure to another case.

There are currently 723 COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, an increase of 76 in the past 24 hours.

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