Patience, kindness and vigilance with change in alert levels

Published on August 13, 2020

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Whanganui District Health Board Media Release

Following the change in Covid-19 Alert Levels, local health sector leaders are encouraging people to be vigilant, prepared and calm.

Auckland region is at Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 2 following Covid-19 cases in Auckland without unknown origins.

Dr Patrick O’Connor, medical officer of heath, says people in Whanganui, South Ruapehu and Rangitīkei should track their contact with other people, either through the Covid Tracer app, or by keeping notes.

“Tracing where you have been is fundamental to helping stop transmission of the virus. I also encourage businesses to download the QR tracing posters from the Ministry of Health website, if they haven’t already. I also want to encourage people to adhere to social distancing.”

He also says wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of infected people spreading Covid-19. 

“This is referred to as ‘source control’.  Face masks are particularly useful if there is known community transmission, and people are in close proximity to each other such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments,” says Dr O’Connor. 

“I think we’ve all become infection prevention specialists since the beginning of 2020 which is pleasing, but now we need to be extra vigilant and continue with hand washing, drying, using hand sanitiser and staying at home when sick with coughs and colds. Wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of infected people spreading Covid-19,” he says. 

WDHB chief executive Russell Simpson asks people to be calm, kind and prepared.

“Many of us may find the new Alert Level announcements stressful and challenging. I encourage taking time out where you can for your mental wellbeing and to look after yourself, your whānau and others around you. We proved we are a strong, resilient and supportive community as we moved through previous Alert Levels and we know we can do this again,” says Mr Simpson. 

He says, while it is important that people with Covid-19 symptoms stay home and ring their GP or Healthline, people with long-term conditions, or those who become very unwell or need urgent care, go to their GP, WAM or the emergency department.

“We don’t want the health of people in our community to deteriorate because there is a fear about Covid-19. We don’t have any transmission in the Whanganui region and our hospital and health services are prepared to safely treat people with precautions and plans in place. Please make contact with a health professional if you need to.” 

Mr Simpson says Whanganui DHB was recently ranked as second overall in New Zealand for staff hand hygiene compliance from March to June 2020. 

“I am proud of our staff efforts and delighted with our position nationally. The findings demonstrate an investment in a hand hygiene culture and reinforces the importance of hand washing for staff, patients and visitors to minimise the spread of infection,” says Mr Simpson.

If you are sick with flu-like symptoms call your GP or Healthline and get tested for Covid-19 if asked, or attend the community based assessment centre on the Whanganui Hospital open 8am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday and Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 1pm. 

For those visiting whānau and friends at the hospital during Alert Level 2, please limit numbers of visitors to maintain social distancing. WDHB staff will assist with safe visiting. Visiting hours are 7am to 8pm daily. 

Information on Alert Levels

How to keep track of where you’ve been

Information about the Covid Tracer App

Covid-19: Use of masks in the community 

Covid-19:  How to use a face mask safely  

World Health Organisation – how to wear masks safely, including making your own three-layer mask  


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