Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

Jim Elder has worked as a pharmacist for 62 years. Photo: Courtesy of The Mercury Bay Informer.

Pharmacists risk health to serve community

A former pharmacist is paying tribute to colleagues who are risking their health to help the community.

Jim Elder, from Blenheim, worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than six decades.

The former Tokoroa mayor says pharmacy staff are among the most at risk in the country from catching Covid-19 and deserve recognition for all they are doing.

“I was a pharmacist for 62 years, so I do have a bias.

“However, I want to congratulate pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are doing such a great job in all pharmacies around the country. Pharmacy expects that every patient will have an illness or be in contact with someone who is ill.

“That makes it more likely they will come close to someone who has the Covid-19 virus or is in contact with someone who has it. Pharmacy staff are the most at-risk front-line health care workers in the country.”

All pharmacies in Blenheim are open during lockdown. Extra precautions are in place to protect both staff and customers.

Manager and pharmacist at UFS on Queen Street in Blenheim Chris Furness says staff have been working hard.

“We are working well and everyone’s putting their best foot forward.

After an initial rush to stockpile prescriptions, people are relaxing a bit, he says

“Like all pharmacies, we are operating under strict Ministry of Health guidelines and I’d like to reassure people that we are open every day. While the focus is on prescriptions, we are available for other items too such as vitamins.”

Jim, who spent some time working as a pharmacist in Blenheim from 2009 until 2013 before moving back to Whitianga. He retired back to Blenheim in 2019.

He says pharmacy staff deserve credit for all they are doing to help the public during lockdown.

“When the Prime Minister and Health Officials speak of front-line health care workers, they cite doctors and nurses. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are front line health care workers, too.

“At a time when hospitals are reducing admissions and are conducting consultations by phone, pharmacy staff are fronting up to every patient who requires their services.

“Scripts are still being written and every one of them is received and dispensed at a pharmacy. The workload can be excessive and demanding, with not all patients being kind or considerate.

“Pharmacies have been doing an excellent job and we are fortunate to have a nation-wide chain of readily accessible health care centres, with people who are providing dedicated service to their communities,” he says.

The Pharmacetical Society of New Zealand is providing members with pharmacy-specific guidance throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Covid-19 likely to blame as Marlborough man falls ill

One more probable case of Covid-19 has hit Marlborough after a man in his 50s fell ill.

There are four more cases of Covid-19 in both Nelson and Marlborough bringing the region’s combined total to 44, including three older cases that have been added retrospectively.


The number of new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand continues to drop, with 54 new and probable cases announced today, bringing the national total to 1160.

Latest figures revealed by Dr Ashley Bloomfield show that here are 12 people currently in hospital across the country with Covid-19. Four of these people are in intensive care, one in a critical condition.

No patients have been admitted to Wairau Hospital with Covid-19 or associated complications.

Speaking to the media, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the drop shows that the lockdown measures in place during Alert Level 4 appear to be working.

“While I still urge caution, this does suggest that what we are doing as a nation is working.

“There is always a possibility of a set back but we appear at this stage to be on the right track.”

The number of new cases is at its lowest level in two weeks.

Dr Bloomfield says he was “cautiously optimistic” tat the number of new and probable cases were levelling out.

“We will expect the number of cases to stay level before they start to decline.”

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Young girl catches Covid-19

A young girl is among three patients in Marlborough to be infected with Covid-19.

A female and male in their 70s and a girl, aged between 10 and 19 years old, are the latest cases deemed by health bosses as probable.

There are 40 cases of Covid-19 across Nelson Marlborough District Health Board as the total number of cases in New Zealand rose by 67 to 1106.

Latest figures show the total number of people who have recovered in the Nelson Marlborough region is eleven.

Three more people in Nelson have also been diagnosed with the virus.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says he is hopeful that the number of new cases in the last few days has remained fairly level across the country.

He added that the amount of testing being done across the country is very high.

He says he was confident that numbers have started to level off, which was encouraging considering increased testing.

“We can be very encouraged, however I daresay that what we really looking for is a drop in that rate of increase and the only way we will get that is if we go just as hard over the two weeks.

“Our aim is to stamp it out.”

On Sunday, 3709 tests were completed, the highest number in one day to date.

Most cases are still being linked to overseas travel, with just two percent being classed as community transmission.

Dr Bloomfield says people in communities across the country who need help with other healthcare problems shouldn’t delay seeking help.

“ … some reports that people who require health and medical care who may be delaying seeking treatment.

“Do not delay seeking treatment. If you feel you need help from your GP call first.

Many GPs are now able to provide a consultation online or by phone or by video and if you do have to go out for a visit, they all have very good processes in place.

“Please do not stop seeking help.”

The Blue Door op shop in Blenheim. Photo: Matt Brown.

Op shops face dump dilemma over donations

People are being warned not to dump donations at op shops during lockdown.

Leaving goods outside closed second-hand shops poses a public safety risk.

Everything that’s ditched outside locked doors will have to be destroyed – going straight to landfill.

The SPCA Op Shop on Grove Road has fallen foul of people leaving goods outside and will have to foot the bill to bin the items.

A spokeswoman says that everyone should know that both the store and Renwick centre are closed.

“So why do people still dump their donations at our shop door?

“They will not be sorted they have to go in the bin. The SPCA now have to pay to have your gear dumped. Things are hard enough without extra problems – how about sticking to the rules?

“To everyone else stay safe and look after yourselves.”

A council spokesman is asking for people hold on to anything they have to donate.

Even then, all items will need to be thoroughly cleaned, he warns.

“For health and security reasons, anything left outside op shops will be taken straight to the landfill.

“Please save any donations for delivery to charity shops once we move out of the lockdown period.”

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Covid-19 cases in Nelson Marlborough rise by three

There are 35 cases of Covid-19 across Nelson Marlborough – with three more cases in Nelson.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Marlborough remains at 13 today.

One patient remains in Nelson Hospital, but no further patients have been admitted to Wairau Hospital. As of this morning, there were 1039 cases, including 89 probable across New Zealand.

A woman in her 70s, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 30s have been confirmed with the virus in Nelson.

The latest statistics come as Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealed extra guidance on health rules amid Alert Level 4.

Dr Bloomfield says the guidance also provides additional clarity around bubbles.

“Specifically, if you live alone and have already established a bubble with another household this can be maintained so long as both households have no contact with others – that they stay in their joint bubble,” he says.

“No one is immune to the virus.”

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says police want to ensure people understand the importance of staying home.

“The vast majority of New Zealanders have a high level of awareness of what they can and can’t do under the Alert Level 4 restrictions, and by and large people are doing a tremendous job.

“We want people to stay safe, but if a small number of people persist in deliberately flouting the restrictions, police will have the discretion to warn or, if necessary, to arrest,” he says.

Younger people aged between 20-29 years old are catching the virus, Dr Bloomfield warns.

While they may be less likely to die, they can pass it on.

“We are seeing high rates of people aged 20-29 with the virus. These people may not die of it, but if they are not following the rules, they can pass it on to others.

“By clarifying the rules, we are also reinforcing the ability of Police to enforce them.

“No one likes a rule breaker, especially when breaking the rules puts other New Zealanders’ lives at risk.

“We’ve started well but now is not the time to be complacent.,” he says.

The Notice sets out:

• Everyone in New Zealand is to be isolated or quarantined at their current place of residence except as permitted for essential personal movement.

• Exercise is to be done in an outdoor place that can be readily accessed from home and two-metre physical distancing must be maintained.

• Recreation and exercise does not involve swimming, water-based activities (for example, surfing or boating), hunting, tramping, or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services.

• A child can leave the residence of one joint care-giver to visit or stay at the residence of another joint care-giver (and visit or stay at that residence) if there is a shared bubble arrangement.

• A person can leave their residence to visit or stay at another residence (and visit or stay at that residence) under a shared bubble arrangement if:

o One person lives alone in one, or both, of those residences; or

o Everyone in one of those residences is a vulnerable person.

A Covid-19 sign at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Marlborough Covid-19 cases rise by two

Two women in Marlborough have been diagnosed with Covid-19, with one case confirmed and the other probable.

A spokeswoman from Nelson Marlborough Health revealed a female in her 40s has been confirmed as having the virus while a woman in her 60s look likely to have it too.

“One new probable and one new confirmed case were announced on 4 April by the Ministry of Health for the Nelson Marlborough region,” she says.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Marlborough to 13, including two probable cases.

Nelson has 17 confirmed cases and two likely.

Across both Nelson and Marlborough, 31 cases are in isolation at home while one case in Nelson hospital in a stable condition.

All cases are believed to be related to travel.

The Ministry of Health today revealed there are 950 cases in New Zealand, with 82 new cases confirmed today.

People with new or existing health worries should not delay in getting medical help and advice, doctors warn. Photo: File

One more Covid-19 case in Marlborough

A woman in her 40s has become the lastest to fall foul of Covid-19 in Marlborough.

Nelson Marlborough has confirmed one more probable case in the region as the total number of cases in Nelson Marlborough rises to 30.

But a patient who has spent the last few days in isolation at Wairau Hospital has been discharged after making a good recovery.

Across New Zealand there are now 868 confirmed and probable cases, with latest figures showing 103 patients have recovered.

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says there are also two more cases in Nelson.

This comes after 52 people were assessed in Blenheim yesterday and 14 swabs taken for testing.

Nine people across Nelson Marlborough have recovered from the virus.

None of the cases in the clusters have had to be admitted to Wairau Hospital. Photo: Matt Brown.

Two clusters of Covid-19 under investigation

The Ministry of Health is investigating two clusters of Covid-19 cases in Blenheim – all linked to travel.

Ministry of Health staff have today classed six cases of Covid-19 in the region as a cluster.

Latest figures show that the cases are all linked to two sources; Marlborough Alzheimers and an New Zealand Air Force rugby team

This includes one probable case.

A Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) spokeswoman says The Ministry of Health confirmed a cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases among an Air Force rugby team who had returned to New Zealand from a US rugby tour.

Six of the nine Air Force cases have been confirmed in the last 24 hours,

Although the Ministry reports nine cases, only three of the nine cases reside in the Marlborough region.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) Clinical Director of Public Health Dr Stephen Bridgman says that it’s important people do not confuse ‘cluster’ with ‘community transmission’.

“A thorough investigation and contact tracing process was completed after the first of these cases was confirmed on 22 March.

“Investigation found that local cases in this cluster were related to travel.

“All local cases have been in isolation since upon their return from the USA, and I thank them all for working closely with the public health team to ensure they remain in strict isolation.

“People do not need to be concerned about these cases’ movements in the community,” Dr Bridgman says.

“Our message for the community is that the NMPHS, and the national close contact tracing service, undertake expert contact tracing to reach close contacts – the people most at risk – as they determine necessary. Close contacts will be contacted directly.”

A cluster is where there are a group of COVID-19 cases who are linked together because they have been in the same place together.

There are some clusters of cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Most of these clusters have a link to someone or several people who have travelled overseas recently.

Fourteen clusters under investigation across New Zealand with possible contacts being traced.

The move comes as front-line health workers in Nelson Marlborough are set to get a boost in protective medical gear.

NMH will receive 41,580 masks for distribution to health and disability workers in our region as part of a Government decision to release 1.2 million masks from national pandemic stock.

With the assurance this new stock arriving in the next 48 hours, NMH will start to distribute more masks from our own reserves in the meantime, the spokeswoman says.

General manager strategy primary and community, Nelson Marlborough Health Cathy O’Malley says staff will be reminded and taught how and when to use PPE masks.

“We will continue to teach and remind health and disability workers about how and when to use PPE such as masks, to ensure that it is used correctly and responsibly.

“Basic hygiene measures are still the best defence against COVID-19, so training and reminders about this will also continue,” she says.

More masks will be distributed to hospitals and primary care facilities, aged residential care providers, community pharmacies, community mental health providers, home-based support workers, disability support services and community midwives.

If members of the community want to know how to use a mask correctly, there is a video on the Ministry of Health’s website

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett. Photo: Paula Hulburt

United we stand

Paula Hulburt and Chloe Ranford

Protecting the people of Marlborough is a top priority and everything possible will be done to help.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett yesterday issued a heart-felt message to the public in the wake of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to raise New Zealand’s alert level to level three, with level four coming into force on Thursday.

“This is an unprecedented global emergency and everyone in Marlborough needs to play their part.

“I think it was inevitable … This is a clear signal that this is a very serious situation and that we each have to take responsibility to get through this.”

Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer Nick Baker says he believes the number of cases in Nelson Marlborough will continue to rise in the short term.

“The fight against Covid-19 will not be won in hospital corridors or at GP clinics but in the supermarket aisles.

“The key message is that we are physically separated but still together. The virus is like an invisible enemy; you only know it’s there seven days after it arrives.”

Dr Baker says these “challenging times” were especially hard for older, more vulnerable people in society.

“Be strong, be kind and think about your neighbours. The virus is like a fire if you like, we must keep it from spreading.”

Mayor John Leggett strongly urged Marlborough to support the Prime Minister’s and Ministry of Health’s advice and direction.

Council’s pandemic planning has been fast-tracked.

The Marlborough Pandemic Group met yesterday to discuss the Covid-19 crisis and share the latest information about the economic challenges now facing the Marlborough region.

Mayor Leggett, who chairs the group, says it’s a difficult time but people are doing their best to adjust to the new environment.

“Marlburians can have confidence that there is a lot of good work going on at the moment and our key industries and employer groups are responding to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.”

“We will come out the other side of this – we are a resilient bunch who have experienced challenges and emergencies before.”

Chief executive Mark Wheeler says council will be focusing on delivering “critical lifeline services.”

“Our focus now is on delivering critical lifeline services such as drinking water, waste management, sewerage and effluent disposal, road maintenance and emergency management.

“Keeping Port Marlborough and Marlborough Airport operational is also critical.”

Mark confirmed the Blenheim office front counter in Seymour St will close too.

Anyone wanting council services should contact them via phone on 03 520 7400 or email [email protected]

An injured paraglider was spotted by drone. Photo: Supplied.

Drone rescue for paraglider

A seriously injured paraglider was rescued from remote farmland after he was spotted by a drone.

Emergency crews spent 45 minutes searching for the paraglider who crashed about 12.45pm on Monday.

A drone pilot, called into help police and fire crews find the missing man, discovered him at Longpoint near Ward Beach.

The injured man is believed to have spinal injuries and warned rescuers he is also a possible Covid-19 risk.

He was flown by helicopter to Wellington Hospital shortly after 2.10pm.

A police spokeswoman says emergency services were alerted at 12.45pm.

“Emergency services responded to a report of a paraglider crashing on a farmland near Ward Beach Road around 12.45pm.

“The person was located around 1.30pm and flown to hospital with serious injuries.”

The paraglider was unable to activate his locator beacon due to his injuries.

Four-wheel drive vehicles searched farmland in the area where the man was last seen.

But it was a drone pilot who spotted the man on the ground around 50 metres from the sea.

The man has told emergency personnel he has had recent contact with a couple who have possibly been exposed to Covid-19.

Emergency workers were alerted to the possibility of infection and will follow procedures.