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Daily Media Update - Thursday 14 May 2020

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No new cases in Southern

The Ministry of Health has announced no new COVID-19 cases in the Southern district today. The region’s total remains 216, with seven active cases, 207 now recovered and two deceased.

In the Southern district it has now been 26 days since a new case was reported.

Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Jack said the seven remaining active cases are spread throughout the district.

Public health staff are closely monitoring the condition of people who remain active cases and we recognise how challenging their experiences have been. We know that COVID-19 can be a significant and persistent disease that we need to take seriously.

International literature on COVID-19 indicates that the speed of recovery for patients with COVID-19 varies.  Some people recover quickly and for others there is a longer tail for recovery.

With the move to Level 2 we are asking anyone who has symptoms to get tested immediately.  They should contact their GP or Healthline in the first instance for referral for testing.

None of us like to bother people or over-react, but getting tested if you have any symptoms is the best way you can help yourself, whānau, medical staff and our wider community in the battle against COVID-19.

Please note confirmed and probable cases are combined, to match Ministry case reporting. For a breakdown by Territorial Authority please visit the Southern Health website: 

https://www.southernhealth.nz/sdhbCOVID19/cases-update

 Health Services – Level 2

 We are now at Alert Level 2 as we unite against COVID-19. Our hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and other essential health services are open.  We are also carefully expanding the services we can offer under Level 2, but safety measures remain in place to keep our patients, staff and the community safe.

We want to reassure you that we are here to help. Essential services are running and support is there for you if you need it. If it’s an emergency, call 111.

Get tested immediately if you have symptoms

As we head into Level 2, The Medical Officer of Health, Southern DHB, Dr Susan Jack is urging anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (which are similar to cold and flu symptoms) to get tested immediately.

While that risk of COVID-19  in Southern is now low, it is imperative that anyone in the district with any symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or any flu-like symptoms should stay at home, and contact Healthline or their GP to organise a COVID-19 test. In addition to general practices, testing is available at CBACs or designated practices in the region by calling 0800 VIRUS19 (0800847 8719). Testing is free.

These people should stay at home until the result of their test is available.  If the test is positive, they must stay in isolation until declared recovered by Public Health South, and their immediate close contacts should also self-isolate.

Public Health South will be closely watching the situation and ready to act rapidly, if needed.

Dr Jack said the lockdown and increased handwashing meant that Southern was heading into an unexpectedly low flu season.  However, opening of schools and workplaces would see flu symptoms start to rise.

She emphasised the continuing need for people to practice physical distancing (2 metres with strangers, 1 metre with their workmates), good hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette.

If you have any symptoms, we need you to get tested immediately.  You are not over-reacting, you will be helping keep yourself, your whānau and your community safe.

Symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to a range of other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu, and do not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. They include:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature (at least 38°C)
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell.
     

Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

COVID-19 assessment and testing

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please call your GP or free phone – 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719).

You will be asked further questions and referred, where appropriate, for testing. Patients can go on to be tested at a Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC), their own general practice or a designated practice, whichever is most appropriate and convenient.

Testing for COVID-19 is being conducted by most general practices, and at two CBACs in the Southern district – in Dunedin and Invercargill.

There are also Designated Practices where people who don’t have a GP, or who don’t know who their doctor is, can be referred for testing. Designated Practices are:

Alexandra Family Medical
Aspiring Medical Centre/Wanaka Medical Centre
Cromwell Medical Centre
Fiordland Medical Centre
Health Central Ltd
He Puna Waiora Wellness Centre
Junction Health (Cromwell)
Kurow Medical
Mosgiel Health Centre
Queenstown Medical 
Te Kāika
Wakatipu Medical Centre

There is no charge for COVID-19 testing, whether the testing is carried out at a CBAC or in a general practice. CBACs are operating in Dunedin and Invercargill from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday and on weekends from 10am to 2pm.

Our hospitals

Visitor restrictions

Current visiting restrictions will remain in place until at least Monday 18 May. This is one nominated visitor per patient who is allowed to visit once per day between 2pm and 6pm.

The visitor policy is under regular review and any changes to the policy will be advised as soon as it is released.

Our visitor policy protects the safety of patients and staff by minimising avoidable contact and the potential for spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Non-urgent surgery and outpatient appointments gradually resuming

We continue to resume health services across the region, in order of clinical priority. This may mean managing appointments in a different way such as via online/telephone/non-contact methods.

Please be reassured that you will be contacted as soon as we can if you have an outstanding appointment or surgery.

Screening of Patients and Visitors

We are required to continue screening of all patients and visitors attending our facilities.  Please be prepared for some delays when you arrive at one of our hospitals or facilities and ensure that you allow additional time when attending any appointments.  If visiting please be aware our busiest time is at 2pm and accordingly if you are able to delay your visit delays may be reduced.

Maternity

Midwifery care and maternity care is an essential service and is available for everyone who needs it. For pregnancy-related care and advice please contact your Lead Maternity Caregiver. Women who have not been exposed to COVID-19 are still able to choose their place of birth as per normal. Healthy well women with normal pregnancies are encouraged to consider birth at home or their local primary maternity unit.  Women can also consider a postnatal transfer to a rural primary maternity unit for inpatient postnatal care

Women in labour in a maternity facility will be allowed one support partner, for the duration of the labour and birth. A maximum of one visitor at a time and one visit per day for women in antenatal in-patient or postnatal wards. 

Other essential services

District nursing

The district nursing service are now providing a full range of services with home visits and clinic recommencing.  Referrals are being accepted as normal.  To accommodate the requirements under Level 2 and maintain patient and staff safety, there may be some changes to how some services are delivered.

Home care services

 

Home and Community Support Services are progressively returning to providing a full range of services.  Clients will be contacted by the provider.  To accommodate the requirements under Level 2 and maintain patient and staff safety, there may be some changes to how some services are delivered.

Home Team/Community Rehab

These services are operating as normal and patients will be contacted if there is a change to their schedule.

Hospice

Hospice services continue to be delivered through Otago and Southland.     Inpatient and community services are running largely as normal under the ministry of health alert level 2 guidelines.    Access to advice and support is available 24/7 (Otago 0800 473 6005 and Southland 0800 211 308) and is not limited to patients known to the Hospice.

Meals on Wheels

The Meals on Wheels services are being delivered as usual.  Clients should have a good back up plan just in case a meal doesn’t make it to its destination.

For more information about these services: southernhealth.nz/sdhbCOVID19/current-status

In the community

Rest assured services are available but they may not be quite the same as usual. Please bear with us as we safely expand our services and meet the highest need first.

General Practices

The message from WellSouth is that that General Practices in the Southern district are open.  People should call if they need health care. If you would ordinarily call your doctor, call your doctor.

Pharmacy

Pharmacies are open. Please check opening times, as they may be different to usual.

Dental care

At Level 2 for low risk patients –patients are able to receive a normal range of dental care from their usual provider.

Please be aware that we are expecting to catch up on a lot of deferred work over the next few weeks.

Community Oral Health Services for children aged 0-12 years are open. Oral Health team: Otago 0800 672 543, and Southland 0800 570 300.

For adults in the Southern district, please contact your usual provider.

Patients who are identified as high risk will only be able to have essential emergency care provided.

Blood tests

Information about Southern Community Laboratory centres that are operating and their opening times can now be found at: www.sclabs.co.nz/index.php/collection-centres/dunedin. Please click on ‘Otago-Southland clinics – summary of changes’

Sexual health

Dunedin and Southland sexual health clinics are open. Patients are asked to contact the clinic to arrange a consultation. There are no drop in clinics available.

Dunedin Clinic:

Open Monday to Friday 9am - 4.30pm

Phone 0800 742 546 ext 1
 
Invercargill clinic:

Open Mondays 9am-4.30pm

Phone 0800 742 546 ext 2
 
Urban and rural youth health clinics

Youth health & wellbeing, sexual health & contraception

This service is available. Please contact your public health nurse or email: publichealthnursing@southerndhb.govt.nz

Public Health nursing

Public health nursing services are available to schools and families for child and youth health. Please contact: publichealthnursing@southerndhb.govt.nz

ENDS.