Mission Impossible: Getting a RAT

I had read stories about how difficult it is to get RAT tests, but until you experience it yourself you don't realise the level of incompetence involved.

A family member was sick earlier this week so they went to a testing station on Monday and got tested. The result was negative. But as they still have cold like symptoms, they wanted to get a RAT before they head back into their office next week.

It looked really simple. You just go to the , give your details and how many people live in your household, and they calculate how many tests you can pick up. Then they text you your order number and say they can be picked up at any of the community facilities on the website. I was impressed by how easy it appeared to be. Alas, I should have known better.

I drove half an hour to the community facility (a pharmacy). I walked in and said I had an order number so could I grab some RAT tests. They told me that I can't just turn up, and that I needed to ring up and make an appointment in advance. They further told me I can only pick them up between 2 pm and 4 pm, despite their hours being listed as from 9 am. And that they need to have staff in full PPE supply me with the tests, even though I am not sick, and do not need to be tested there – all I needed was for them to give me some tests in a paper bag to take home. If the website had told me this was the case, then I would have rung up in advance and gone in at 2 pm, but it didn't. I guess they expect people to have ESP.

So that is one hour wasted. I then decide to go to one of the mega testing centres having checked you don't need an appointment for then. I drive there and there is no separate queue for picking up a test as opposed to getting tested. The queue is probably over a km long, and it would take me I estimate three hours to merely have someone hand over a bag full of tests to me to take home for my family member.

I gave up. We tried to do the right thing, but the system incentivises you not to. Most other countries allow you to just buy (or get for free) RATs in any supermarket or pharmacy. Here we have a Soviet style bureaucracy which actively works against allowing New Zealanders to get tested.

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