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SDHB Daily Media Update - Wednesday 8 April 2020

New cases in Southern

The Ministry of Health announced 8 new COVID-19 cases in the Southern region today, bringing the region’s total to 195. Confirmed and probable cases are combined for this and future totals, to match Ministry case reporting.

For a breakdown by Territorial Authority please visit the Southern Health website

COVID-19 Patient updates and inquiries

There are currently two patients with COVID-19 in Southern hospitals.

Lakes District Hospital has one patient, who is in stable condition. Dunedin Hospital has one patient, who is in critical but stable condition.

Southern DHB is receiving multiple media inquiries about COVID-19 positive patients.

These inquiries include their place of residence, current location, condition, transport, personal circumstances, family members and employers.

The rights of COVID-19 patients are the same as the rights of all of our patients. Southern DHB does not comment on individual details for reasons of privacy.

Medivac flights and helicopters are regularly used to transport patients to and from Southern hospitals. Again, for privacy reasons, we cannot provide details of the patients being transported, their condition, or destination.

Cluster Information

We are receiving multiple media inquiries about the Southern cluster linked to a wedding where the reception was held in Bluff.

Clusters describe a group of 10 or more cases that are linked together through a common event or gathering. They are a concern because we know transmission can happen more quickly where people gather together. This increases the number of people who can be potentially exposed to the disease and pass it on.

Public health staff quickly follow up confirmed cases as soon as they are identified and reach out to their close contacts. This is important to contain clusters and prevent the disease spreading any further. It’s also why the message of physical distancing, minimising travel and remaining in your bubble are so important.

Cases counted as part of clusters do not mean that everyone attended the event directly; they could also be contacts of those who were at the original event or location. This is the case with the Bluff wedding cluster, however we are not releasing a breakdown of those who attended and those who contracted the virus through their contact with those who attended at this stage. It is also hard to determine this accurately (some people could have attended an event and not contracted it there, but caught it later as a contact of an attendee).

For privacy reasons, we never name individuals, and would not name businesses unless there was a public health reason to do so. In this instance we are able to reach people through our contact tracing processes, and do not need to name any further organisations. Some businesses choose to advise their communities of confirmed cases affecting them, and this is their decision to do so.

We thank everyone for providing support to and respecting the privacy of those affected by COVID-19.

Reporting of clusters

We have received a media inquiry about the reporting of clusters.

The decision of whether and when to report a group of cases as cluster is made by the Ministry of Health. However, it does not impact on the actual work that is initiated by Southern DHB’s public health team from the moment a case is confirmed - to make contact with all confirmed cases, trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.

This is how we will stop the virus in its tracks and why it is so important that everyone observes the requirements of Alert Level 4 to now stop the virus from reaching beyond people’s individual bubbles. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation at this time.

Police Commissioner’s comments welcomed by Dave Cull

Southern DHB has welcomed Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s comments today that there would be more checkpoints over Easter, and has requested these include presence in the Southern District.

With the support of the district’s mayors, SDHB Chair Dave Cull has written to the district’s acting Police Superintendent as follows:

As the lead agency in response to the pandemic, Southern DHB is asking our partner agencies to help take every possible step to support us to achieve observance of the stay-at-home rules. This includes some explicit measures over the Easter period where people will want to travel.

In particular, the implementation of checkpoints on the roads to keep would-be travellers IN their own areas and OUT of the usual destinations such as Queenstown and Central Otago, would be a significant assistance to us. This would directly help us to stop the spread of COVID-19 beyond the bubbles and clusters that exist today. We thank you in advance for your support in this matter. The request has the full support of all the region’s mayors - if we all do our bit, we will flatten the curve.

© Scoop Media

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