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By Kim Moodie, RNZ News reporter

A public health expert is urging New Zealanders to keep up the testing momentum, as testing rates take a dive over the long weekend.

Fewer than 13,000 people were swabbed for covid-19 in the past day, at least 5000 down on the most recent week days.

University of Otago senior lecturer Dr Lesley Gray is encouraging anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested for covid-19.

“We know that for those people that will get symptoms, it may start as simple as sneezing, a scratchy throat, a bit of a runny nose as if it were a run-of-the-mill cold,” she said.

“So, if you do get any of those symptoms, especially a scratchy throat, please do go forward and see if you can get tested.”

Gray said anyone who is feeling well should make a habit of regularly checking the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest, to see if they have been exposed to the virus

“It could be that if people are acquiring omicron, assuming there are more cases in the community, then we’ve got to accept that some people will not actually have any symptoms.

“So unless they identify that they may have been at a location of interest, or that they may be a close contact, they may be completely oblivious to the fact that they may also have covid-19.”

188 new community cases
The Ministry of Health reported 188 new community cases of covid-19 today — 20 fewer than yesterday.

It is the second day in a row that case numbers have fallen from Saturday’s record high of 243 infections.

Several new locations of interests have been added to the Ministry of Health’s website, including Air New Zealand flights, a Wellington restaurant, a Taupō cafe and a mosque in Hamilton.

Gray said it was important New Zealanders kept up the public health measures that had served the country well throughout the outbreak, such as masking, physical distancing, keeping a record of movements and staying home if unwell.

“If people identify their symptoms early, then take the steps to see if they’re a positive case, it makes a huge difference. We’ve all got families and nobody wants to be transmitting this to other family members, especially our young tamariki.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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