Preparations for screening

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Clutha Health First is preparing for screening in Balclutha following news of the first cases of Covid-19 in the South Island.

Clutha Health First chief executive Ray Anton said a “handful” of patients who had suspicious symptoms had been put through the facility’s testing operation.

The all-clear was given to the fewer than five patients who were tested.

“I think people are concerned about it,’’ Mr Anton said.

‘‘It’s difficult not to be with it in your face every day.”

People who were concerned about whether they had the virus should ring the national Healthline to be assessed and find out if they need testing, he said.

“We are relying on the Ministry [of Health] to continually update the available information about the virus,” Mr Anton said.

Clutha Health First has been in talks with Clutha District Council and emergency services to start to co-ordinate a large­scale plan should the need arise.

As of yesterday, the ministry said New Zealand had 20 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and the chance of widespread community outbreak was expected to remain low.

“We all have a role in keeping out Covid-19, stamping it out and slowing the progression of Covid-19 in New Zealand,” a ministry spokesman said.

“A fundamental part of this is not going to work or going to places where there are other people if you are sick or even starting to feel sick,” the spokesman said.

Other measures to curtail the spread of the virus included: coughing into your elbow, washing your hands with soap and water often, avoiding contact with people who are unwell, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said this was a time for “cool heads”.

“We need to understand that each of us will react to this stressful time in a different way,” Mr Cadogan said.

Work colleagues should be mindful that their co-workers might want or need to take time away from work, he said.

“We will all get through this together.”

Caring for your neighbours is what Milton Elder Care Trust care co-ordinator Ruth Gorton believes is the best thing people can do in the face of Covid-19.

“Clutha people have always been a friendly, supportive group of people and now it’s still very important to go next door, especially if you know your neighbours are elderly and alone, and knock on the door and say, ‘Hello, are you all right?’

“It is important we know who our neighbours are,” Mrs Gorton said.

“Here at the Milton Care Trust centre, we have instituted a no cuddles or hugs policy.

‘‘Clients and visitors are advised to wash their hands on arrival, during and when they leave.

‘‘It’s all about caring for the aged people of our community.”