Covid-19: West Coast workshops prepare community for self-isolation

3:38 pm on 25 November 2021

Community workshops are under way to help West Coast residents prepare for Covid-19.

The government graphic for self-isolation under the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown.

The government graphic for self-isolation under the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown. Photo: Supplied

At this point no community cases have been identified in the region.

But health authorities want to ensure Coast communities have systems in place to help them cope when the virus does arrive, as expected this summer.

The West Coast District Health Board expects the majority of people who become ill will be able to recover at home, with monitoring and support, according to a Community and Public Health report to today's meeting of the Heath Advisory Committee.

Allied health director Dr Jane George says there will be support available for infected people and their contacts isolating at home or in quarantine.

"For example, we have home isolation kits ready to go which include some essential cleaning and personal protective equipment as well as essential information about looking after yourself with Covid-19."

Other items to make isolation easier and less stressful would be added over the next few weeks including resources for children, Dr George said.

"For households with particular health needs, some medical equipment such as pulse oximeters and thermometers will also be supplied."

The Ministry of Health was managing the procurement of pulse oximeters so that all DHBs had supplies according to the number of cases active in their communities and the West Coast DHB would receive ongoing supplies as required, she said.

It had also established a range of support options to enable people to access food and other fundamental services like laundry services if required while they were isolating.

Monitoring of home-isolating patients would be jointly managed by Community and Public Health, the patient's primary care provider and other support agencies identified through the community-based service needs assessment.

The DHB planning team last week began a series of meetings on the West Coast, meeting with community partners about what more it can do to support people to successfully self-isolate in their own homes. So far the team had visited Greymouth, Fox Glacier and Westport, and planned to get to South Westland, Reefton and Karamea next.

The solutions would need to give special consideration to those in emergency housing after the Westport flood, and the economic impacts for small business owners who might have to isolate in their place of business.

That would be especially important in South Westland, where businesses were already facing dramatic reductions in revenue, and the challenges of isolating in locations with poor or no telecommunications, Dr George said.

"We are less likely to need community-based SIQ if everyone gets vaccinated, which is the best way to protect ourselves, our whānau and our communities," Dr George said.

All non-urgent community and public health work on the Coast has been paused as the region braces for Covid, and all West Coast Community and Public Health staff have all been diverted to the Covid-19 response effort by the Ministry of Health.

"Community and Public Health are now operating as a virtual team of Auckland regional public health service working on case investigation, contact tracing and contact monitoring."

The four cases identified recently in Christchurch last month had all recovered and all of their contacts had now finished their time in quarantine.

no metadata

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the News Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs