14 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Top of South on fifth day without new cases

3:35 pm on 14 April 2020

The top of the South region is now in its fifth day without any new cases of Covid-19.

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Photo: 123rf

And numbers turning up at hospital emergency departments in Nelson and in Blenheim as a result of fewer accidents or other medical complaints had more than halved, the chief medical officer of health said.

Nelson Marlborough Health said the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 remained at 33, with 15 probable cases, and 29 people recovered.

All cases were travel-related, none were in hospital and there was no evidence of a community outbreak in the region.

Doctor Nick Baker said the region had been lucky so far, but it was also ready early on to deal with the surge of travellers flocking back home.

"We had a definite surge of cases linked to travellers and contacts of travellers and we've done very careful contact tracing so that really, we've only got the primary cases, a small number of secondary cases and no third-degree cases - contacts of contacts coming through."

Dr Baker said the public health service had a well-developed pandemic plan, but he also credited the community for its proactive stance, and for being of a size that could be well organised.

"They've been seeking healthcare even with low-level symptoms, if they have a risk factor," he said.

"They've been willing to toe-the-line and maintain that social isolation."

Dr Baker and other healthcare professionals across the district were still urging people to call their doctor or practice nurse if they were at all unwell.

The board had not needed to increase its intensive care unit capacity, but had a plan for coping with a surge in cases if that happened, he said.

"There's a lot of talk in the media about, 'oh you just need more ventilators', but actually that's like having more railway trains without lines - you have to have the staff, you have to have the monitors and other equipment," Dr Baker said.

He said it was also evident that upper respiratory viruses had so far not spread while people were in lockdown.

Numbers presenting at emergency departments in Nelson and Wairau Hospitals since 21 March due to accidents or medical events had on average dropped from a daily 134 to 63 cases.

The number of admissions had dropped about a third from 28 daily to 17, due to fewer road crashes, and fewer mountain biking and other sports-related injuries, Dr Baker said.

"All of our normal flus, coughs, colds, ear infections - all the infections kids get have also reduced."

However, Dr Baker expected that to change once people began mixing socially again.

  • 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

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