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COVID-19 testing

Updated 3 May 2022

Daily case numbers are falling in the Waikato, reflected in numbers of people in hospital and the percentage of Emergency department patients who test positive.  Our current strategy is to try to identify the majority of cases, to guide isolation measures.  We are also working to recognise cases among hospital patients (many of who have COVID contributing to their illness) and among staff, to maintain the hospital as a relatively COVID-safe environment.

Rapid antigen testing (RAT) is now the standard method in use but hospital patients and some staff staff are being tested by Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT) as this is the most accurate way.

Please refer to national guidance on who should be tested. 

Lab testing is done 7 days a week. Expected turnaround time is usually <24 hr for specimens collected at Waikato Hospital.  Selected cases may be tested stat (GeneXpert) but our capacity is limited.   It is best to walk the specimen to the lab so it can be recognised as needing rapid testing, and turnaround time is <2 hours.  Patients in Emergency Department are also being tested by the "ID NOW" test, which is an isothermal loop mediated NAAT and results are available in under an hour.

We are now anticipating the arrival of Influenza.  This can be tested for on the same swab used for COVID PCR but not on ones used for ID NOW NAAT in Emergency Dept and not from RAT swabs.


Dr Chris Mansell

Clinical Microbiologist



Latest laboratory specimen collection information can be found here

Waikato Respiratory Virus Report - Week 34

28 August 2018

Influenza A and RSV numbers are steady, at winter levels. Requests for Pertussis (whooping cough) PCR testing remain few and we have not had any positive swabs for the past month.

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Waikato Respiratory Virus Report - Week 32

14 August 2018

Influenza numbers remain high. However, only 29% of samples are positive for Influenza A so most patients would not benefit from Oseltamivir because there a variety of other viruses circulating too.

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Latest News

Waikato Respiratory Virus Report 2022 Week 21

3 June 2022

Influenza is now present in the Waikato but numbers are still low.

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Waikato SARS-CoV-2 Lab Testing Report 19 May 2022

19 May 2022

Test numbers are stable and percent positivity is also stable or falling, which is in contrast to the increase in case numbers reported nationally.

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Waikato Respiratory Virus Report 2022 Week 17

3 May 2022

There’s still not much about at the moment except SARS-CoV-2, only a small amount of Rhinovirus. New viruses have not yet arrived in the Waikato since opening the borders.

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