Covid-19 and Omicron have meant different things for people over the last few years. I thought I might share an experience I recently had while attempting to pick up a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
On Monday evening, I developed a sore throat and headache but was unsure if it was from the air conditioning at work that day or if I was sick. I decided to get a RAT ordered which was a painless exercise online until it came to pick up.
Two pickup locations in North Auckland were listed. One was at a vaccination centre 0800 m from my house and the other a 30-minute drive away in Orewa. On the website to order tests, both were labelled drive-through. Those who know me will know that I am blind and can not drive, so I decided to walk over to get one.
When I arrived, I was informed that I couldn’t walk through it was drive-through only. I explained I was blind and couldn’t drive but was still turned away. Granted, the day before, there had been an announcement on TV saying do not walk through at drive-through centres. However, that leaves those of us who can not drive or do not have access to personal transport having difficulty accessing RAT.
This meant getting on the phone to Healthline, where I explained the dilemma. I asked if someone could post me a RAT test. The answer was maybe, or we could ask someone working across the road at the centre to drop one-off. The operator couldn’t arrange anything and said she would escalate this, took my details and explained someone would be in contact.
Luckily, I only had a sore throat and headache for about 24 hours, but the issue is that I was unwell and didn’t want to pass on any bugs to friends, family and colleagues. Long story short, I still haven’t been called back or had any sign of a RAT test in the mail or delivered. In saying that, soon, I will have been asymptomatic for over 24 hours now and will likely work from home tomorrow, but the point is that others in this situation may also have difficulty accessing RAT.
Here is another exciting story about access in relation to location rather than disability. RNZ Story
I am tempted to order one from Amazon in Australia (AUD 49) and see if it turns up before anyone contacts me about getting me one. However, jokes aside, the point is that RAT tests are supposed to be free and accessible for those that need them in New Zealand, but not everyone fits the systems in place.