No tolerance for abuse of frontline staff

Published on April 05, 2020

COVID-19 EOC placeholder

Everyone who interacts with essential service workers during the COVID-19 outbreak is reminded that abuse will not be tolerated. 

Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre controller Stuart Hylton is reminding people that these key workers – such as those working in supermarkets, dairies and other food supply chains, accommodation, pharmacies, government agencies, media and infrastructure, medical staff and more – should be treated kindly and with patience and respect at all times. 

“Essential workers are doing their job for the benefit of all of us and they deserve kindness and respect during what is a stressful time for everyone. I would like to personally thank everyone who is on the frontline for the hard work and dedication they are providing for all of us.” 

Mr Hylton said there had been some abuse of frontline medical staff at the community-based assessment centres (CBACs). 

“Abuse of the CBAC team will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Police will continue to have a presence at the CBACs to enforce good behaviour and they will take action if people are being disruptive or abusive,” Mr Hylton says. 

“The frontline CBAC staff are an important line of defence against the spread of COVID-19 in our region -- they are doing a most important job and need the community’s support.” 

Filming or photographing the CBAC buildings and staff members is also unacceptable, Mr Hylton says. 

As of 1 April 2020, the Ministry of Health’s new case definition is that anyone with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be considered for testing regardless of travel history or contact with a confirmed case. 

Dr Paul Nealis, Primary Care Primary Liaison Doctor and clinical lead for the CBACs, says the CBAC teams in the Whanganui region are available to talk to people who are unwell to determine whether they need to be tested for COVID-19.  

“Doctors at the CBACs will make clinical decisions based on the symptoms people have when we see them. Not everyone who is unwell and shows up to a CBAC will be tested for COVID-19, but we might provide them with other medical advice or refer them,” Dr Nealis says. 

“The team from Red Cross is also on site to provide mental health and social support during this uncertain time. 

“We have sufficient testing kits to meet the need at present and the situation is reassessed each day, with contingency plans to meet the need should demand grow.  

“But we also need the community to be patient and kind to the team at the CBACs as we are doing our best for the health of all people in our community and are on the frontline ourselves,” Mr Nealis says.  


Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs) are open at the following locations: 

Whanganui - Whanganui Hospital Campus, 100 Heads Road - 8am to 9pm; seven days 

Whanganui - Gonville Health Centre, Abbott Street  - 9am to 4pm; Monday to Friday 

Whanganui - Te Oranganui Health Centre, Wicksteed Street – 9am – 4pm (for those enrolled with Te Oranganui Trust services as well as other Iwi organisations and services) Monday to Friday 

Marton – Blackwell Street, Marton – 9am to 4pm; Monday to Friday  

Taihape - Taihape Hospital Campus - 9am to 4pm; Monday to Friday   

Ruapehu - Raetihi Community Space, 42 Seddon Street - 9am to 4pm; Monday to Friday     


Key Whanganui Region health information 

 As at 5 April 2020, a total of seven people have COVID-19 in the Whanganui Region – all who have returned to New Zealand from overseas.

  • Five people are in the Ruapehu District and two are in the Whanganui District.
  • Public Health staff are in daily contact with those people who have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and contact tracing will be undertaken.   
  • We ask people to stay home, and to look after themselves, and the people they care most for. By staying home, they can help slow the spread of the virus and break the chain.  
  • We can slow the spread if we all work together. Physical separation of two metres is of the utmost importance outside your bubble, but that does not mean social separation, so keep in touch by other means.  
  • Remember to regularly wash your hands and dry them well.  
  • And always cough and sneeze into your elbow.   
  • Reminder – The only hospital visiting allowed is one visitor for patients: At end stage of life, in the Critical Care Unit, in the Maternity Unit, and in the Children’s Ward. All visitors must be part of the patient’s bubble.  
  • Whanganui Hospital is open 24/7 for critical cases and those patients who need urgent care.  
  • In the Waimarino region a reduced maternity service commenced on Monday, 30 March, 2020, as there is only one midwife available. This means all women due to give birth in the next four weeks will be advised to do so in Whanganui Hospital.  
  • Pregnant women can still have a support person from their bubble during labour and birth, and can hold their new-born skin to skin and share a room with their baby. However, they must wash hands and dry them thoroughly before and after touching their baby. Seeing a midwife for routine and urgent visits is still necessary throughout lockdown. The midwife will do as much consultation as they can over the phone or via video conferencing, and the number of face-to-face visits may be reduced. Please talk to your midwife if you have any queries.  


Need assistance during the lockdown  

 For Whanganui call 06 3490001 - this line operates 8am to 5pm with an after-hours response after that.  

  • For Ruapehu south (Waimarino) call 06 3858364 – this line operates 24/7.  


For more information    

  • To keep up to date with local information about important health services in the Whanganui Region visit or    
  • Te Ranga Tupua Collective Iwi Response – phone 0800 202 004 for help, advice and support for whānau in the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, Otaihape and South Taranaki Region   
  • For national information visit or   


If you are unwell   

Phone the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.   

  • If you are going to your general practice (GP) - phone first.   
  • If you are so unwell you need to come to Whanganui Hospital’s emergency department  –please phone first.   



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