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COVID 19 testing prior to 16 March 2020

Ryan Potts made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

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From: Ryan Potts

Dear Ministry of Health,

I request the following information under the Official Information Act:

The date on which the first person was tested for COVID 19 in New Zealand.

The total number of tests conducted as of 15 March 2020.

Any information held regarding tests denied by Medical Officers of Health.

Yours faithfully,

Ryan Potts

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Ministry of Health


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Dear Mr Potts

Thank you for your two requests under the Official Information Act 1982
(the Act) to the Ministry of Health (the Ministry) on 26 March 2020 for:

        "The date on which the first person was tested for COVID 19 in New
Zealand.

       The total number of tests conducted as of 15 March 2020.

       Any information held regarding tests denied  by Medical Officers of
Health. "

        and

        "Please advise the total number of COVID 19 tests that had been
performed in New Zealand as of 28 February 2020.

       I further request that you provide a breakdown of these numbers by
day and district."
The first person tested for COVID-19 was on 22 January 2020.

As per Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, the total number
of tests processed as of 26 March is 12683. Please refer to the Ministry
website for this media update:
[1]https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/me...
 

At this time, the Ministry, along with many other agencies, have diverted
significant resources to support the Government's response to COVID-19.
This is a fast-evolving situation and the Ministry must continue to
respond at pace to this global pandemic. To provide this would require an
extensive and substantial amount of manual research and collation, at a
time the Ministry is responding to a global pandemic. Unfortunately, your
request for the break down of the COVID-19 tests and information regarding
any denied tests are refused under section 18(f) of the Act at this time.
You may be interested in the details of the current cases which is
publicly available on the Ministry website:
[2]https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise...

The Government is committed to the COVID-19 response, including keeping
the New Zealand public well informed.

This is a fast-evolving global situation and this office, along with many
other agencies, have diverted significant resources to support the
response to COVID-19.

The Ministry knows there is significant public interest in COVID-19 and is
responding to the substantial increase in demand for information from
interested or concerned members of the public.

We are working hard to ensure the New Zealand public is fully informed
about the work being done to respond to COVID-19. The Ministry is
committed to transparency and intends to make official information
publicly available as soon as possible. This includes key advice papers to
Ministers and situational reports.

You may be interested to know the information will be published as soon as
possible on the Ministry’s ‘Information Releases’ page found here:
[3]https://www.health.govt.nz/about-ministr....

Information about the number of COVID-19 tests available, self-isolation
measures and the case definition (when a person will be referred for
testing) is available on the New Zealand Parliament and Ministry websites.
You might also be interesting in watching the media briefings where these
topics have been explored.

For your reference, information about testing kits and enforcement of
self-isolation was debated in recent oral parliamentary questions in
Parliament:
[4]https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-....
Information about confirmed and probable cases are now available on the
Ministry website and is updated regularly:
[5]https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise....

The Ministry routinely publishes the latest on the Government’s response
on the COVID-19 section of the Ministry’s website:
[6]https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise....

Under section 28 of the Act, you have the right to ask the Ombudsman to
review any decisions made under this request.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Ministry.

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/me...
2. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise...
3. https://www.health.govt.nz/about-ministr...
4. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-...
5. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise...
6. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise...

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