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Southern DHB planning for coronavirus

Southern DHB is planning in the event of coronavirus cases in the district.

The virus, first diagnosed in Wuhan China has been reported in other countries across the world and although there have been no cases identified in New Zealand we need to be prepared,” says Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Jack.

The DHB has set up an emerging infectious diseases coordinating committee (EIDCC) which is meeting regularly while this emerging public health threat exists. The committee liaises with the Ministry of Health, and the World Health Organisation via the Ministry of Health, to provide SDHB staff, primary care and the community with up to date information regularly. Linking into the EIDCC is an expert advisory committee whose role is to work through operational risk, needs and challenges.

“Information about coronavirus is available on the front page of the Southern Health website which we’ll keep updated for members of the public from information provided by the Ministry of Health. We’re also providing advice and information to primary care and other health providers in the community, also via our website,” says Dr Jack.

Staff are provided with information via the SDHB intranet and through email alerts and advice is available through Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health team.

Dr Jack says the public shouldn’t be alarmed but they should be aware that the virus could circulate in New Zealand but they can be reassured that the Southern DHB and community health providers are preparing in the event we have cases.

The advice is for people follow the basic principles to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections. These are:

• avoid close contact with people suffering acute respiratory infections
• frequently wash hands, especially after contact with ill people or their environment
• people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).

Travellers who become sick within a month of their arrival are encouraged to seek medical advice and contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or a doctor and share their travel history. It is important to mention recent travel from Wuhan and any known contact with someone with severe acute respiratory illness who has been in Wuhan.

Information will be regularly updated on the Ministry of Health website and the Southern Health website.

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