New phoneline for Covid-19 testing queries


A new free phone number, 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719), is available for people to ask whether they should be tested for Covid-19 in the Southern region.

The new service, based at WellSouth’s Dunedin office, began receiving calls on Thursday.

It made it easier for people to ask about and access Covid-19 testing and helped ensure people that did not need testing did not have to leave their bubble unnecessarily, WellSouth medical director Stephen Graham said.

Six phone lines were staffed by clinicians who assessed and triaged patients and referred, where appropriate, them for testing at a community-based assessment centre, a general practice or a designated practice (where people who do not have a GP, or who do not know who their doctor is, can be referred for testing).

The free number was a way WellSouth could help support general practice teams and primary care providers in Otago and Southland, Dr Graham said.

“Patients should continue to call Healthline [0800 358 5453] or their own general practice for advice. But 0800VIRUS19 is another resource at their disposal.”