Twenty New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Southern District
Twenty new Southern DHB COVID-19 cases were announced today. The total number of Southern cases is now 59. This includes 58 confirmed cases and one probable case, as of late yesterday.
Anyone who has developed symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, such as cough, fever or difficult breathing, should contact Healthline 0800 358 5453 or their family GP as they may need testing.
Again, we call upon the community to provide support to and respect the privacy of the affected people, and we thank everyone who for cooperating with requests to self-isolate.
Southern DHB continues to remind the public that the best way they can help with the COVID-19 response is to:
- Keep two metres physical distance from others
- Stay home to avoid exposure to illness
- Practice good personal hygiene and cleaning practices
Joint statement about World Hereford Conference - Ministry of Health, Southern District Health Board & Canterbury District Health Board.
This was a significant conference for the rural sector with extensive reach: 400 people from 18 countries attended the event in Queenstown, and a number continued their travel to other parts of New Zealand after it finished
The first case health authorities were informed about wasn't exhibiting typical symptoms at the time of the conference. He returned to Australia where he subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
When alerted to this person having tested positive, organisers contacted public health officials at Southern and Canterbury District Health Boards (where some of the participants had travelled), and based on current advice regarding contacts, an initial message was sent to attendees on 18th March alerting them to possible contact with a confirmed case.
Since then, public health units - along with Healthline and the Minstry's newly established contact tracing unit - have been working to contact trace and follow up on cases and contacts. Figures through to today have identified 840 close contacts, 583 of whom have been tracked.
The World Hereford Conference is a clear example of the very real need for action by all of us to help stamp out clusters of COVID-19.
This action includes health authorities acting swiftly and appropriately to provide initial advice and then actively investigating every case they are notified about. It also means individuals acting responsibly and in line with the clear public health advice. Level 4 gives New Zealand our best chance of breaking the chain of community transmission. This will require all our efforts and the Ministry strongly urges all New Zealanders to play their part.
Stay at home vs self-isolation
In case of any confusion about the difference between ‘stay at home’ and ‘self-isolation’ instructions, Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Jack says, “Self-isolation applies to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, who has had close contact with a COVID-19 case or who has returned from overseas in the past 14 days. Self-isolation means no contact with anyone else for any reason, including those in the same household.”
“The nationwide instruction to ‘stay at home’ is a way of separating people by household. The ‘bubble’, referred to by the Prime Minister, is a small group of people that live in your house and are your only contacts for the lockdown period. It is important that everyone understands whether they should be in the ‘stay at home’ or ‘self-isolation’ category. Most people will move to ‘stay at home’ status after completing 14 days of self-isolation. Public Health South will advise on a case by case basis where longer self-isolation periods are required.”
More information, on self-isolation and staying at home, is available on the official COVID-19 website: https://covid19.govt.nz/help-and-advice/for-everyone/staying-at-home/
UPDATE: Mental Health Services
We have received queries about Mental Health Services during the four week lockdown.
Southern DHB Mental Health Crisis Services (Emergency Psychiatric Service and Southern Mental Health Emergency Team) and Inpatient Services continue to operate across the district, as do NGO providers of residential mental health services.
The MHAID have prepared and are working hard to support patients on the Wakari site at this extraordinary time. Wards are well prepared with a range of activities and programmes to help people keep busy, such as board games, sporting activities, sensory packs, walking in the outdoor areas.
Keeping connected with family, whanau and friends is important, and staff will support patients with this by phone and technology. We are also supporting people to ensure they have access to essential personal items.
The Inpatient Unit at Southland Hospital is similarly well prepared.
Community Mental Health – district wide
To keep staff, patients and their families safe during COVID-19, Community-based Mental Health and Addiction DHB and NGO services are being provided differently, with as many staff as possible working from home and making regular contact with the people they support.
The staff from Rata House in Invercargill and Gore are making regular phone contact with the patients, who normally attend the Day Centres.
Many of the people who attend the Day Centres have been provided with a pack containing sensory activities to use while we are all observing the Level 4 restrictions.
UPDATE: Personal Protective Equipment
One of the most important issues facing health services around the world during the COVID-19 response is the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Southern DHB is no exception.
Traditionally PPE has been dispersed and managed across multiple locations in the health system. However, to maintain visibility of supplies and enable us to allocate our resources to where it is most required we are now holding our stocks centrally.
SDHB Procurement has for some weeks now been working to build our PPE stock. In addition to our usual stock, we have a Pandemic stock to supplement the usual stock held.
Southern DHB is also working to minimise wastage, in order to make current supplies last as long as possible. To do this we are training staff in the use of PPE and making sure we adhere to guidelines for the use of PPE.
In addition, Southern DHB is being pragmatic around security of PPE. This involves both the use of security cameras and security staff to make sure supplies are secure. It is important to us now more than ever as we want to protect both our staff and our patients now and into the future.
Overall, maintaining our supplies is taken very seriously. To that end, we are working closely with other DHBs and the Ministry of Health to co-ordinate our efforts to replenish stock on a timely basis.