"At Summerset, we care for some of the most vulnerable people in society and so we take every precaution we can to keep them safe," said Head of Clinical Lynda Irvine.
"We have been running voluntary surveillance testing of staff for COVID-19 since August last year and are about to start our third round of testing using nasal swabs – this time for our Auckland and New Plymouth care staff."
The voluntary staff testing is run through Hill Laboratories. Any positive test would be referred immediately to the public health system. To date, no staff have returned a positive result. Summerset is predominantly using nasal swabs for surveillance testing and has had good uptake from staff so the testing methodology doesn’t appear to be a barrier.
"We have also used saliva tests for new staff in one of our care centres at a time when the COVID-19 risk was relatively low, but due to greater confidence in the nasal swab testing, we prefer to use this method during times of heightened concern, such as when there are new community cases identified or if there is a cluster developing," said Irvine.
"We will continue to assess the information and evidence surrounding saliva testing and see both testing approaches as having a role to play in our ongoing surveillance testing.
"In place since the August COVID cluster in Auckland last year, we have a 21-day rule for overseas visitors to our care centres.
"This means that once a visitor from overseas has finished their 14-day managed isolation and has tested negative to COVID-19, we ask for another week before they visit one of our care centres, just to be on the safe side. We can and do make exceptions to this on compassionate grounds."