29 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: non-English speakers targeted with lockdown information

10:09 pm on 29 March 2020

Extensive efforts have been made to communicate Covid-19 updates to the large non-English speaking community in Nelson.

The Nelson City Council has made a move to encourage government offices to re-locate to the regions.

Nelson city. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Nelson is home to one one of the country's largest and most diverse migrant communities, some of whom did not have a written language.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Rebecca Greig, who managed the Victory Community Centre in central Nelson, said a multi-agency approach had been taken by services aligned with Nelson-Marlborough Health, including Nelson Bays Primary Health and Red Cross services to help non English-speaking communities.

Greig said a local pharmacy business which had an interpreter on the staff had, until the lockdown, been visiting the local sports field to convey vital messages.

"They have been talking to a particular group of people who don't have a written language, and they were going over there to demonstrate the hand-washing, how to cough into your elbow, and details about social distancing."

Greig said the extremely unusual situation was causing widespread concern in the community, but it was worse for those who did not speak english.

"Everything you need, needs to be interpreted. You may come from a culture that doesn't have a written language yet all over the place are posters that you don't understand.

"For this extremely vulnerable population it is horrific for them."

Greig urged residents to keep an eye on their neighbours, and to offer as much support as possible.

A phone hotline has now been set up in Nelson-Tasman for people with urgent welfare needs.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

The region's emergency management group has worked with the Nelson and Tasman councils to create the service for people with urgent need for food or essential supplies.

The main number to call the council in Nelson on is 03 546 0200 and in Tasman it is 03 543 8400

Callers will then be directed to the appropriate service provider.

An emergency management spokesperson says the support service is for people who do not have friends, family or neighbours who can help.

Emergency management has reminded people they were allowed to go to the supermarket on their own, and it was okay to do this for someone else (an older person who cannot go out).

If people have an urgent need for accommodation, they can call the MBIE Temporary Accommodation Service on 0508 754 163.

If financial assistance is required to use that accommodation, then New Zealanders can call MSD on 0800 559 009. Visitors are recommended to contact their local embassy or consulate.

Other important phone numbers include:

  • The free government helpline 0800 779 997 or 0800 22 66 57 (8am-1am, 7 days a week).
  • Call or text 1737 - free, anytime, 24/7 to talk with a trained counsellor
  • Healthline on 0800 358 5453
  • Your local GP
  • Or 111 in an emergency

More information about the Covid-19 response can be found on the Covid19.govt.nz website.

Civil Defence in Nelson-Tasman say if you have concerns for other people struggling to follow the requirements of self-isolation, please let them know at nhccselfisolation@health.govt.nz

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