INVERCARGILL has its first case of Covid-19.
The announcement was made by the Ministry of Health’s director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield at a live-streamed press conference at 1pm yesterday.
The Invercargill case was one of eight new cases of Covid-19 announced at the conference.
“All were overseas travel related,” he said.
They were all New Zealanders returning from overseas.
This brought the number of confirmed cases in New Zealand to 20 with the other seven new cases from Auckland (4), Christchurch (1) and Waikato (2).
At the time of going to print yesterday there were no further details available, however more information would be posted on the Southland Express and Otago Daily Times websites.
Details about which flight numbers the Invercargill traveller was on, would also be updated on the Ministry of Health website when the information was available.
Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle did not return calls before print deadline yesterday.
The Southland District Health Board confirmed on Tuesday evening it had been preparing for the arrival of Covid-19 since mid-January.
An emerging infectious diseases committee was set up to monitor the progress of the illness and establish processes for ongoing preparations.
“In the past two weeks, we have established an emergency co-ordination centre at Wakari Hospital in Dunedin to co-ordinate and support planning activity across the southern health system.
“Our focus has been to out’, and being prepared so that if Covid-19 arrived in the Southern district, we could stamp it out. At the same time, we also needed to be prepared for the possibility of people needing to be hospitalised for the illness.”
She said the Public Health South team had worked with airports, travel operators, cruise ships, tertiary institutions and health professionals to manage health response at the borders and identify high risk visitors.
“We are personally greeting passengers from all international flights to provide information, advice and reassurance. We have also trained extra staff to carry out contact tracing and case management for the ‘stamp it out’ or ‘manage it’ phases.”
An important message to share was, “if you think you could have Covid-19, please do not go directly to your GP or Emergency Department. Instead please call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.”
Hospital teams were planning for various scenarios, including isolating patients and needing to care for a few, some or many patients who may have the infection and require acute care. “However, we are aware that if a large number of patients required acute care, this would be extremely challenging as it has been in other countries. That’s why it is so important for the community to observe the public health measures that are in place, and we thank you for your understanding with this.”
The opportunity to stamp out the illness in New Zealand and slow its spread was still there requires a collective effort and we thank everyone across the health system and beyond who is doing their bit to prepare through planning, following health advice and helping us stay protected from this disease,” she said.
WHAT TO DO:
People with symptoms of Covid-19 are reminded to phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice and direction, and to call ahead before arriving at a GP or hospital for assessment.
For travel advice go to www.safetravel.govt.nz
For advice on attending events, phone the event organiser or access the Ministry of Health website for advice
For advice on Government assistance available, phone 0800 779 997 between 8am-1am seven days a week or go to www.govt.nz/covid-19.
Regularly wash hands (at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap)
Cover mouth and nose when you sneeze
Stay home if you are sick
Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms