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Southern DHB Media Update - Thursday 2 September 2021

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SWABBING – Attributable Dr Michael Butchard, Medical Officer of Health, Southern

Today more than 210 COVID-19 tests were taken by WellSouth staff and general practices around the district*.

*Please note testing data is preliminary and may vary from final data published by the Ministry of Health.  It reflects recorded tests until 3pm.  These figures are liable to change as testing continues during the late afternoon/evening.

VACCINATION* – Attributable Hamish Brown, Southern COVID-19 vaccine programme lead

The Southern COVID-19 vaccination programme has delivered 284,066 doses of the vaccine to date, 93157 of which were second doses. Across the district, 64.5% of the population over 12 years has received at least one dose and 31.9% are fully vaccinated.

This is thanks to a tremendous effort from over 100 providers across the district, including pharmacies, general practices, Māori and Pasifika health providers, the staff at the DHB’s vaccination clinics in Invercargill and Dunedin – and of course a very positive response from the public. Thank you all for playing your part to keep the community safe.

If you can no longer make a booked appointment, please remember to change or cancel it either online at bookmyvaccine.nz or by calling 0800 28 29 26. This helps us know where there are available appointments across the district and ensure others don't miss out on the chance to get vaccinated sooner.

 *Please note these vaccination figures are indicative only and reflect vaccination numbers up to 4pm daily. These figures are liable to change as vaccination centres continue to vaccinate people during the late afternoon/evening.

CONTACT TRACING – Attributable Dr Michael Butchard, Medical Officer of Health, Southern

As of 5.00pm today (Thursday 2 September), the national contact tracing system has fewer than five people recorded as close contacts in the Southern region.

Public Health South continues to manage around 100 close contacts who are either currently or have been symptomatic since being at a location of interest. Most of these close contacts are in Auckland.

SOUTHERN HEALTH STAFF VOLUNTEER TO HELP AUCKLAND - attributable Chris Fleming, Chief Executive, Southern DHB

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of DHB Chief Executives tasked on behalf of all DHB’s with looking at identifying ways to support Auckland, determined that sending specialist staff was an immediate way we could provide much needed backup and support for our colleagues on the front line in Auckland.

I represent the South Island DHBs on that group, and at about 9am yesterday I asked Southern DHB’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and our Executive Director People and Capability to work with our staff (and their South Island colleagues) to find staff willing to go to Auckland for several weeks to fill key roles.

Southern DHB’s priority is:

1)    Ensuring that we are able to continue to provide acute and urgent services to the people of the Southern District (this includes Covid management response in terms of swabbing, the vaccination programme and being prepared in the case of Delta arriving in our region);

2)    Responding and supporting the need of other regions if they are being stretched – currently this is restricted to the Auckland region;

3)    Providing as much planned care for Southerners as possible after addressing numbers 1 & 2.

When I asked for staff to step up I was thinking success would be if we could get half a dozen people to volunteer.  By just after 4pm, 25 staff from the Southern DHB, WellSouth Primary Health Network, Gore Health and Waitaki District Health Service had volunteered.  They volunteered to leave their home (possibly as early as today), families and friends to travel to Auckland.

This is an incredible sacrifice. All of our front line health staff are inevitably in harm’s way whenever the virus presents in our community and they are all doing way more than their job.  They are standing up for our community which speaks of the professionalism of each and every one of them. Those who stepped up to help our Northern colleagues, who are in need, are taking this a step further. In my mind they are heroes and I acknowledge the sacrifice that their families and friends are making.