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COVID-19 Daily Media Update - Monday 23 March

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Four further COVID-19 cases in Southern district

A West Otago woman in her 50s, a Dunedin woman in her 30s, a Dunedin woman in her 20s and a Wanaka teenager have today been announced as having been diagnosed with COVID-19.

This brings the total cases in the Southern district to 13, 12 confirmed and one probable.

The West Otago woman, and Dunedin woman in her 30s, both attended the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown from 9-13 March.

The Dunedin woman in her 20s has recently returned from travel from US, while the Wanaka teenager has returned after travelling to Europe. Both have been in self-isolation since their return to New Zealand.

All four individuals are mildly unwell and are at home.

All cases are in isolation and around 100 close contacts are being identified and tracked by Public Health staff. Close contacts are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, and everyone is asked to monitor their health and contact Healthline should they experience cough, fever or have difficulty breathing.

There is an increasing risk of community transmission. This is because cases are infectious for 48 hours before symptoms arise, many cases have very mild symptoms and may delay contacting their health provider, and some confirmed cases have been very social and active before their diagnosis and while infectious.

Again, we call upon the community to provide support to and respect the privacy of the affected people, and we thank everyone who for cooperating with requests to self-isolate.

If everyone follows the Alert Level 3 and 4 actions then we can significantly reduce the risk of widespread illness in the coming weeks. If we all do the right thing now this will help protect us all.

 

Location alerts

Southern DHB is alerting people in a number of locations across New Zealand that they may have come into contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

As part of its contact tracing process, it is important for public health teams to notify the public about the movements of infectious cases to maintain awareness of possible transmission and ensure everyone monitors their own health.

A number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 attended the World Hereford Conference (9-13 March in Queenstown with post conference tours around the South Island.)

Conference attendees have been notified and asked to self-isolate for 14 days from last exposure.

Those who worked at the conference are considered to be casual contacts and have not been asked to self-isolate but should monitor their health and immediately self-isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if they develop symptoms such as a cough, fever, sore throat or difficulty breathing.

The following locations relate to possible casual contacts by members of the public that can’t be identified through contact tracing. Casual contacts are people who may have come into contact with the individual, but for less than 15 minutes and/or at a distance of more than two metres.
 
The risk in these instances is considered to be low. Those who believe they may have come into contact with the case are advised to monitor their health and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if they develop symptoms such as a cough, fever, sore throat or difficulty breathing.

Location

Dates/time

Risk to public

Wishbone Café, Dunedin Public Hospital

15 March, 1.30-2pm

Casual contact – low risk

Mitre 10 South Dunedin

15 March 3-4pm

Casual contact – low risk

Integrated Health and Physio

Dunedin Hospital

16 March, 8-8.45am

Casual contacts – low risk

Hotel Sudima Restaurant

Christchurch

19 March, 7-7.30am

Casual contact – low risk

Cheviot Tearooms

19 March 1-2pm

Casual contact – low risk

     

 

 

Southern DHB cancels all outpatient consultations and elective surgery

 

Southern District Health Board is cancelling all outpatient services and elective surgery across the district.

The decision follows the Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon that schools and non-essential services across New Zealand will be closed for at least the next four weeks.

SDHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming said in-line with the Prime Minister’s announcement, Southern DHB would maintain essential services and prioritise urgent care.

“Patients are advised that from today all outpatient appointments and elective surgery are cancelled, unless you are contacted by the SDHB.

“Where possible, we will use telehealth for consultations, which is where clinicians will use phone or video links to treat people in their own homes.

“In cases where it is essential to see a clinician, we will contact patients to arrange the best option for their treatment.”

Mr Fleming said there would be a transition period over the next 48 hours as reduced services came into effect.

“We understand people will have many questions about the services that will be provided in the coming weeks. We are working to clarify this and will provide further information as soon as possible.”

Hospitals will be accessible through one entrance only.  The entrance to Southland Hospital has already been limited to one entrance and the same measure will be put in place at Dunedin Hospital.  Visitors will only be allowed to enter our hospitals on compassionate grounds.

“We thank our patients for their understanding and co-operation as we work through this together,” he said.

Mr Fleming encouraged people in the Southern district to look after each other by checking in with friends, neighbours and family, either by phone or other electronic means.

“While it is crucial that people self-isolate and follow public health safety measures, it is also good to check in with others in a safe way, to keep up social contact, show kindness and support each other,” he said.

 

Christchurch Locations

We have received questions asking for more specific locations in Central Christchurch related to one of the patients confirmed with COVID-19 on Friday.  Unfortunately, the person providing the details did not speak English and was understandably distressed by the situation, so even with the aid of an interpreter only limited information was able to be provided.

 

Wanaka A&P Show attendees

There have been questions in the wake of the confirmed COVID-19 patients who attended the World Hereford Conference, which was hosted by the Wanaka A&P Show.  Specifically, we have been asked whether everyone who attended the Wanaka A&P Show should self-isolate.

Public Health guidance is that unless people attended the Conference as either a delegate, or staff, they would be considered to be casual contacts.  Casual contacts are people who may have come into contact with the individual, but for less than 15 minutes and/or at a distance of more than two metres.

The risk in these instances is considered to be low. Those who believe they may have come into contact with the case are advised to monitor their health and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if they develop symptoms such as a cough, fever, sore throat or difficulty breathing.

 

ICU Beds and Ventilators

There is national information about ICU beds and isolation rooms on the Ministry of Health website at this link https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/news-items/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-update-25-february

Our hospitals also have the flexibility to utilise other clinical areas as required in the event the number of COVID-19 cases escalates and we have plans in place in Southern DHB to do this.

Southland has 6 ICU beds and can comfortably sustain two ventilated patients short term.  We will often send patients to Dunedin for longer term ventilation.

Lakes District Hospital does not have ICU beds.  They intubate and then send patients on with immediacy.

Dunedin has 12 ICU beds and 12 ventilators and there are plans in place to increase this capacity by eight in the short term.

 

CBACs Update

Community Based Assessment Centres (CBAC) are open in Dunedin and Invercargill.  A further one is planned for Queenstown.  Additional locations in Southern will be determined based on need.

The Dunedin CBAC was open over the weekend and throughput was busy but manageable.

All inquiries around testing for COVID-19 should be referred to the Ministry of Health.

 

ENDS.