29 Feb 2020

Coronavirus: Nurses Organisation says employers obliged by law to protect staff

7:41 pm on 29 February 2020

The Nurses Organisation is urging health providers to ensure staff are adequately protected when treating infectious patients.

Nurse Sun Chun reads medical records at a hospital in Wuhan, yesterday.

A nurse reads medical records at a hospital in Wuhan earlier in February. Photo: AFP

It comes as the country's first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Auckland on Friday.

The patient - who travelled from Iran and returned on an Emirates flight via Bali - is currently being treated at Auckland Hospital.

Hilary Graham-Smith from the Nurses Organisation, said employers are obliged under law to take every precaution in protecting staff in any infectious disease situation.

"We have the health and safety legislation and it means that employers have to take every precaution in terms of protecting staff and making sure that they're equipped with the right equipment to keep them safe in any infectious disease situation," she said.

Nurses who were concerned about their level of protection should call the organisation.

"We need to think seriously about how we ensure that nurses are well supported and able to function in a very stretched system that's going to have an additional stress placed on it," she said.

Graham-Smith said the union would offer further advice to members next week.

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