Fifth virus case con­firmed

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - Ja­nine Rankin and Paul Mitchell

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.’’

MUR­RAY WIL­SON/ STUFF

Most pa­tients will not be al­lowed vis­i­tors while they are in Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal dur­ing the corona virus cri­sis.

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