Get masked up for flu fight

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - AARON LEAMAN

If you haven’t had a flu jab, pre­pare to don a mask if you spend time at Waikato or Toko­roa Hos­pi­tal.

That ap­plies to both vis­i­tors and staff.

The Waikato DHB de­clared the start of the in­fluenza sea­son last Wed­nes­day af­ter a spike in the num­ber of flu-like cases in the re­gion.

The dec­la­ra­tion trig­gered the health board’s manda­tory mask pol­icy for staff and hos­pi­tal vis­i­tors who haven’t had their flu shot.

The mask pol­icy wasn’t en­forced last year be­cause a flu sea­son was never de­clared.

Waikato DHB chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Mur­ray said the num­ber of pos­i­tive in­fluenza swabs had passed the re­quired thresh­old to al­low the board’s med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health to de­clare a flu sea­son.

Masks will be avail­able at the en­trances to Waikato Hos­pi­tal wards and at hos­pi­tals in Thames, Toko­roa, Te Kuiti and Tau­marunui.

‘‘It means that if you’re com­ing into the wards, and you haven’t been vac­ci­nated, a vis­i­tor mask will be avail­able,’’ Mur­ray said.

‘‘It’s an hon­our sys­tem but I know most peo­ple com­ing to see their loved ones who are sick or ill ... are go­ing to take the ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.’’

Each year, about 400 deaths in New Zealand are re­lated to in­fluenza in­fec­tion.

Waikato DHB chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Mur­ray says peo­ple vis­it­ing the health boards’ hos­pi­tals will be asked to wear a mask if they haven’t had a flu jab.

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