The fast, reliable on-site surveillance saliva PCR Covid screening used by Napier Port since November 2021 is exactly the type of solution businesses need to buffer them from Omicron, says Napier Port CEO, Todd Dawson

“There are practical, highly-accurate, Covid testing solutions that businesses can implement almost immediately, but they have been lost in the poor planning and politics surrounding the import of rapid antigen tests. 

“The lack of availability of on-the-ground testing, constrained supplies, and government ministries commandeering future supplies, compounds the problem for businesses.

“Supply chains are already under pressure, and with the potential for Omicron to take out vast swathes of people from the workforce having no testing capability onsite to help minimise spread or clear workers to return to work, is a big problem and one that could have been easily avoided with some advanced planning,” he says.

Napier Port PCR testing programme:

  • Has been using PCR testing every second day since November, surveillance testing its 330 workforce and around 50 close contact contractors
  • Conducts approximately 1,000 surveillance tests weekly
  • With Omicron has ramped up to testing  workers daily
  • The PCR test can detect a non-negative result on Day 2 of infection, before a person becomes contagious at Day 4, making it suitable for businesses trying to manage the spread across their workforce and also for clearing people to return to work
  • The cost per test is substantially lower than RATs, which are difficult to source and compared to the cost of closing the port, or any business, it’s also substantially lower
  • The Port has helped around 50 businesses in the region (Pan Pac, Apollo Foods, Taylor Corp and Gourmet Blueberries) and across New Zealand to source units and implement training processes and protocols to use them correctly. 
  • Is undertaking testing for a small number of other businesses, where it’s practical to do so, such as those coming on to port etc.
  • Has huge support from staff, customers and supply chain partners. 

Dawson says that without some form of surveillance testing, workplaces have no capability to manage the spread pro-actively and clear people to return to work in a timely way.

“It (PCR testing) gives stakeholders confidence that everyone at Napier Port is doing as much as they can to keep each other safe and stay operational. We come in, we do our sample, and we know we’re going to hear in a couple of hours if there is any potential infection. The best thing is, because it’s early detection, it should be picked up before the person is contagious.

“In the coming months, we have real concerns for other businesses who either haven’t been able to get access to rapid testing, be it saliva PCR or antigen tests,” Mr Dawson said.

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