Fifth virus case confirmed
Another two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the wider Manawatu¯, bringing the region’s tally to five, as well as another probable case.
Midcentral District Health Board medical officer of health Robert Weir said each of the new cases diligently followed guidelines to immediately go into self-isolation as soon as they suspected they could be infected.
One of the two new cases, a man in his 70s who caught coronavirus overseas and returned to New Zealand on March 17, made a particularly outstanding effort to minimise contacts on his way home to isolate, Weir said.
‘‘He worked with airline staff to ensure no-one was near him on [Flight 5115 from Auckland to Palmerston North]. Upon arriving ... he drove straight home in Horowhenua, where he has gone into self-isolation.’’
Weir said thanks to the man’s efforts he made close contact with few people, making it easier to trace them, and the national contact tracing service was working with airlines to ensure those on his international and domestic flights were contacted.
‘‘He did everything right. ‘‘It is actions like these that will protect our community and save lives.’’
The fifth case was also a Horowhenua resident, a man in his 50s who arrived back in New Zealand on March 18. He flew from Auckland to Palmerston North the next day and drove straight home to self-isolate with his family.
A probable sixth case was yet to be confirmed by testing. A man in his 20s was suspected of being exposed to coronavirus at the
Hereford Conference in Queenstown, between March 9 and March 13.
Weir said that man was on flights from Queenstown to Auckland and Auckland to Palmerston North before going into isolation with family in rural Tararua.
The three previously confirmed coronavirus patients were all still in isolation at their homes – two in Palmerston North and one in ruralmanawatu¯
Meanwhile, nearly all patients in Palmerston North Hospital will have to cope without visitors during the Covid-19 emergency.
From yesterday a no-visitor rule applies at Midcentral District Health Board facilities.
Board chief executive Kathryn Cook said the changes were necessary to ensure staff and patients were not put at risk.
The exceptions would be for one nominated support person for a terminally ill or seriously ill patient, or a woman giving birth, and a parent or guardian of a child.
‘‘I ask that all wha¯nau help us to protect and care for all who are in our care,’’ Cook said.
‘‘We are going through an
extraordinary situation where we must examine our tikanga to enable us to care for those people who are in hospital in the best possible way.’’
Cook encouraged people to find other ways to keep in touch with their loved ones while they were in hospital.
‘‘I know how important it is for people to support loved ones while they are in hospital.
‘‘I encourage you to use the appropriate technology to keep in touch during their stay.’’
Approved visitors will be asked to sign in and out.
People with appointments or procedures who had not been contacted to have them postponed were encouraged to come in as planned.
The no-visitor policy also extended to them.
Cook said the symptoms of Covid-19 included a cough, a high temperature – at least 38°C – and shortness of breath.
The symptoms were similar to those of other illnesses, such as a cold and flu.
Shortness of breath was a sign of possible pneumonia and required immediate medical attention.
‘‘If you have these symptoms and have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with Covid19, please telephone Healthline, for free, on 0800 358 5453 or call ahead to your GP practice immediately.’’
Most patients will not be allowed visitors while they are in Palmerston North Hospital during the corona virus crisis.