Govt commits $1.5b for Covid support
more cases appeared nationwide. The move to rapid antigen and saliva testing had been made possible because of ‘‘more and more New Zealanders gaining protection through vaccinations’’, she said. ‘‘When we were pursuing an elimination strategy we relied on highly sensitive PCR tests because the cost of missing a case was too high. We can now introduce a wider range of routine testing options that provide other benefits such as accessibility, convenience and speed.’’ Laboratory capacity would also be increased in the first quarter of 2022 to process 60,000 PCR tests daily, Verrall said. Pharmac would get a $300 million boost to buy new medicines that treat the virus. Meanwhile, the Government will invest $204.1m into the welfare system to support people with Covid-19 who are isolating at home, or who have lost work because they contracted Covid-19. The funding would go towards ‘‘region-specific, locally led responses’’, Sepuloni said. ‘‘If you receive a positive test, you will be contacted by someone who will assess your needs. If you need welfare support, then [the Ministry of Social Development] will act as the co-ordination point ... to deliver the support you require.’’ A helpline, 0800 COVID-19, would also be available for those needing support throughout their isolation.