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COVID-19 Daily media update - Thursday 19 March 2020

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Two further COVID-19 cases in Southern district

A tourist from Spain and a Dunedin woman who had recently travelled overseas have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Southern district.
This brings the total positive cases in the district to six.
The Spanish man is his 60s is unwell and being cared for at Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown. His wife is being tested and is self-isolating. Contact tracing has commenced.
The Dunedin woman in her 30s had recently travelled to the Australia and the United Kingdom, via Los Angeles. She has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating since returning to New Zealand this week.

Other Southern district cases recovering well

The others in the Southern district who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week remain in self-isolation and are recovering well. Contact tracing is complete for the first three cases, and is ongoing for the Invercargill man diagnosed yesterday.
Southern DHB is also undertaking contact tracing in Queenstown in relation to an Australian case, who was in the area while infectious. We have been able to reach possible contacts and do not need to publicise his movements as part of the public health response.
Testing for Logan Park students and staff

All those who were tested yesterday returned a negative result. The students, who were close contacts of the teenager who tested positive this week, will remain in self-isolation and are asked to monitor themselves for any symptoms of COVID-19. If they develop any respiratory symptoms, they will be re-tested. We sincerely thank everyone in the school community for their support and cooperation.  


Details about Confirmed Cases in Otago and Southland

We are receiving a number of queries about the individuals who are confirmed cases in Otago/Southland.  As previously stated, queries regarding suspected cases, confirmed cases and testing should be directed to the Ministry of Health.

We will provide some information in our daily updates but won’t be answering further questions about these patients.  We thank you for respecting their privacy.


Testing Numbers for Otago and Southland

We are receiving multiple queries about the number of people undergoing testing for COVID-19.  Again, these queries should be directed to the Ministry of Health.


Police visits to tourists avoiding self- isolation

These questions should be directed to the New Zealand Police. Southern DHB does not hold this information.


Hospitals designate areas for COVID-19 patients

Dunedin Hospital has designated a ward area in which patients with COVID-19 will be looked after.  This area is being prepared, staff are being trained, and current patients are being transferred to other wards. 

Southland Hospital has designated areas in which patients with COVID-19 will be looked after.  These areas are being prepared and staff are being trained.


Elective Surgeries Invercargill

Consistent with the approach at Dunedin Public Hospital, Southland Hospital is postponing elective surgery over the next three days (Thursday, Friday, Monday) to allow for theatre staff and surgeons to plan and undertaken preparations for providing acute surgery to patients who may have confirmed, or are suspected of having, COVID-19. 


Measures to protect Southern DHB Staff

The safety of our staff is our highest priority.  For this reason, our procurement and logistics teams are working to ensure we have the Personal Protective Equipment required for staff and that they are aware of the correct procedures in dealing with COVID-19.  The global pandemic will present a challenge for nations in sourcing ongoing supplies of PPE, but right now we have adequate supplies and are managing them carefully.

Staff are being trained on how to manage patients with COVID-19.

SDHB Infection Prevention and Control staff are also working with services throughout the DHB on the correct procedures to follow, for each different service and setting.

Review of visiting is also underway. Evidence from overseas says that one of the best way to reduce transfer is to reduce the number of people visiting hospitals.  This will involve limiting the number of visitors to patients in hospital and the number of family members who attend with patients. 

From today public access to Southland Hospital has been restricted to the main door, which is the east entrance to the hospital.  The west end door has been closed to public access and is now swipe card access only.

Dunedin Hospital is working also on this, and will publicise any changes to hospital access as they occur.


Flu Vaccinations for Southern DHB Staff

Southern DHB started vaccinating staff for influenza in high risk areas this week and we aim to commence vaccination clinics for the rest of our staff next week.

We are strongly encouraging all our staff to take advantage of their free flu vaccination to protect themselves, patients, families and the community.

It is really important that our staff have the influenza vaccinate this year to help them stay well. It is also really important for the public to have the vaccine too. The influenza vaccine helps prevent a serious illness that could place significant pressure on healthcare services in New Zealand. By having the vaccination it will help to ensure that these services are available for those who need them the most.


Community Based Assessment Centres

A Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC) for COVID-19 has opened in Dunedin and one will open in Invercargill shortly.

The purpose of the CBACs is to relieve pressure on general practices by dealing with the overflow of suspected cases of COVID-19.

For both CBACs the hours of operation will be 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Current after-hours arrangements for Dunedin and Invercargill will continue to operate.

Dunedin’s CBAC will be closed on Monday 23 March for the public holiday.

Patients should continue to call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 in the first instance. Those with suspected COVID-19 symptoms will be directed to the CBAC.

CBACs do not accept walk-ins.