Wairarapa districts step up plans for potential coronavirus pandemic

7:49 pm on 4 March 2020

As the central government confirmed the second case of the Covid-19 coronavirus in New Zealand, Carterton and Masterton District Councils have taken further steps to manage a potential pandemic.

Masterton District Council's David Hopman

David Hopman is the assets and operations manager at Masterton District Council. Photo: LDR / Wairarapa Times-Age

Local authorities, major event organisers, and other organisations are monitoring events and following progress through Ministry of Health updates.

Philip Jones chaired risk meetings at both councils today where pandemic planning issues were raised.

Carterton District Council (CDC) representatives had placed the issue as a key agenda item.

The Masterton District Council (MDC) committee discussed the issue in the behind-closed-doors section of its meeting.

CDC chief executive Jane Davis said it was important to follow messages from health authorities.

Davis said council planning was being updated based on information from the medical specialists.

"Our business continuity plan covers a whole range of essential services we will do our best to keep going," she said.

These included water supply, sewage and rubbish collection.

Jones said refuse had been raised a potential risk through the epidemic overseas.

MDC's David Hopman said managing refuse contracts on behalf of each of the Wairarapa councils was one of the council's "critical services", which also include water supply and sewage.

"At this stage, our focus is on ensuring all our critical services continue," he said.

Hopman said MDC was closely following advice from the Health Ministry.

"We are currently in the first phase focused on keeping Covid-19 out of New Zealand.

"While we are in this phase we are preparing for the possible next step, including what it could mean for our council if the situation progresses.

"We have a plan for situations like this which clearly sets out protocols in the case of a pandemic.

"It includes what we should do to limit personal contact such as reducing meetings, having key staff working remotely to keep our critical activities going and how we might manage people congregating in public spaces."

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