Paula Hulburt

Paula Hulburt

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

Get medical help if needed implore health bosses

People with health problems are leaving it too late to get help, putting themselves at risk during lockdown medical bosses warn.

Health care professionals are urging people not to put off seeking medical help for problems that could become a bigger risk if not treated.

Nelson Marlborough healthcare professionals say people should call their doctor or practice nurse if they are sick in a bid to stop medical problems becoming more serious.

A delay in getting help because of fears about leaving isolation could see little problems develop into major issues, warns Nelson Marlborough Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Baker.

“We have seen cases recently where people have put off getting health care and illnesses have got worse.

“What may start as a minor issue could become serious if you leave it too long,” he says.

“Please don’t wait until the end of weekends, public holidays, or until the end of the lockdown period, to seek medical attention.”

GP clinics, health centres, Healthline, urgent care centres, pharmacies and emergency departments are open during lockdown.

“People can contact their local urgent care clinic or call the general Healthline number for advice.

“For emergencies, people shouldn’t hesitate to call 111 or go to a hospital emergency department.

“Our teams are there to provide care and that hasn’t changed during the Covid-19 response or lockdown period,” says Dr Baker.

Acting Chief Executive of Nelson Bays Primary Health Karen Winton encourages anyone to call their GP clinic for advice.

She says older people should be especially vigilant and reach out for help if they need it. Help is at hand, she says.

“These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. But the message is clear, general practice (your family doctor) and urgent care centres are open for business, even if that business is delivered in a slightly different way.

“If you are over 70 and not meant to be leaving your home during the lockdown period, please call your GP first for a phone assessment.

“If you need to be seen, come in and they will make sure you are safe when you visit.

“Using a car to seek essential health care is allowed, and the sooner you are assessed, the better your health outcome will usually be.”

During lockdown, patients are being offered consultations over the phone, email or video call.

But people should not be afraid to leave their bubble for help if needed, with medical staff on hand to help. Patients will be seen in person if they need to be.

Dr Baker emphasises people should not delay seeking help for urgent needs due to fear of leaving their bubble and being at risk of being infected with COVID-19.

“New Zealand hospitals follow international best practice for infection prevention.

“Things will look different when you go to an after-hours clinic or ED. You may be screened – asked questions about your symptoms – at the door for example, given a mask to wear, or assessed in a cabin outside of the main building.

“These are all precautions to keep you and others safe from infection,” he says.

For more information about where to get healthcare in the Nelson Marlborough region, go to: www.nmdhb.govt.nz/healthcare/

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

One more Marlborough patient likely to have Covid-19

A woman in her 40s is the latest person to become ill with Covid-19 in Marlborough, the Ministry of Health has revealed.

Today’s announcement takes the total numer of confirmed and probable cases of the virus to 48 across Nelson and Marlborough Dustricy Health Board. Twenty one of these cases are in Marlborough.

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman says there is still no evidence of community transmisson with all cases connected to travel.

No cases are in hospital and patients are isolating at home.

The news comes as the total number of cases nationwide sits at 1239, with 29 new cases today; the lowest daily number since before lockdiwn started.

Addressing the country earlier this afternoon, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Kiwis have played a vital role in keeping the number of cases down.

Drivers caught breaking lockdown may face arrest. Photo: File

Drivers caught out breaking lockdown for an Easter break

A plea by police for people not to breach self-solation over Easter is falling on deaf ears for some.

Nelson Marlborough and Tasman Police have caught the drivers of eight campervans and house buses at a checkpoint on SH6 this morning.

All have been trying to head north from Murchison for Easter, say police.

This comes as police revealed they would be ramping up efforts on the roads to catch out those flouting lockdown rules.

“We are checking to see why people are travelling.

So far eight camper vans and house buses have been turned around and ordered back to their Christchurch homes where they were supposed to be rather than trying to get to an Easter Holiday destination,” says a social media post.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is urging people to stay stay and stay at home.

“We know many New Zealanders may have been planning to catch up with friends and family this weekend, or travel to traditional holiday destinations but we urge anyone who was planning to do this – please change your plans and stay home.

“Officers will be visible in our communities and on the roads, including around popular holiday spots, and on the arterial roads to them, to make sure people are aware of the requirement that everyone in New Zealand need to stay at their current place of residence while the Level 4 restrictions are in place,” he says.

Police will also be deploying checkpoints at a number of Marlborough locations, working with local authorities and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups.

Police Commissioner Coster warns people face arrest if they continue to ignore warnings.

Travelling to the bach for a holiday is not essential travel and it is not permitted, he says.

“It’s simple – travelling to and from different towns and cities risks spreading Covid-19 and puts lives at risk.

“The first step will be to educate, but if people continue to break the rules, police will use their discretion to warn people, or if necessary, they could be arrested.

“We’re asking everyone to play their part this Easter, stick to the rules and stay home within their bubble – and keep themselves and their communities safe.”

Some freedom campers using supermarkets during lockdown have been abused. Photo: Supplied.

Freedom campers face lockdown abuse

Freedom campers given emergency accommodation are coming under fire from the public.

The covid-19 crisis spurred council to take swift action to protect the region’s homeless and freedom campers in the area.

But people using their vans to get to and from the supermarket are being accused by some of flouting the rules.

Council’s Marlborough Civil Defence emergency manager Brian Paton says there is not a freedom camper in the region they are not aware of.

“They are in campgrounds all over the region and when they’re going to the supermarket and need to take their campers or vans, they are being abused like nobody’s business.

“People need to lay off and be kind; think about the impression they’re giving of New Zealand,” he says.

Emergency accommodation has been found for all known people sleeping rough or freedom campers trapped in Marlborough as the lockdown came into effect.

Marlborough District Council are picking up the bill for both groups, but all costs will be recouped.

Forty freedom campers have been found accommodation elsewhere in campsites across Marlborough.

“Emergency accommodation for people who’re sleeping on the streets has been found and we don’t know of any freedom campers who have not been directed elsewhere.

“Because we’ve directed them to going there [to lodgings] we’ll pay bills initially and will recover 100 per cent from central Government coffers,” Brian says.

He also wants to reassure members of the public that no money raised from rates was being spent on people from out with the region.

“We’re making sure of it by having a really robust system that everyone gets and can keep track of so it can all be reconciled at the end,” he says.

Brian also paid tribute to campground owners and hoteliers for their support during a tough time.

“They’ve been phenomenal.

“I can’t emphasise enough how brilliant the majority have been who’ve just taken people on when we’ve asked.

“We’re seeing a lot of the best in people, occasionally the worst, but mainly the best.”

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency manager Brian Paton says he is concerned some people are not reaching out for help. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR

Fears over low food stocks for stricken elderly

Marlborough’s elderly may be missing out on vital food supplies.

Emergency civil defence staff and volunteers have been working hard to provide support to at risk people in the community.

But a lower than expected number in food parcels going out means some vulnerable older people may be doing without.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency manager Brian Paton says he is concerned some people are not reaching out for help.

“I’m a little bit concerned that some older people at home may have next to nothing.

“They really do need to stay at home but online delivery if you don’t have a computer or you can’t pay for it makes it really difficult,” he says.

Response team volunteers have been dropping off food parcels to those who have contacted Marlborough District Council.

Marlborough has about 7500 people aged over 70-years-old.

Many have been helped by their own churches and community groups, says Brian.

But with just 37 parcels delivered so far, he is worried some people are slipping through the cracks.

“Our response team are delivering food and keeping up where we need to but at the moment, we are only supplying 37 food parcels and that strikes me as a little bit too low,” he says.

Across New Zealand, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) are ringing up 150,000 people over 70 who do not have a cell phone or email.

Brian says anyone who needs help in Marlborough can contact the council 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I understand that non-government agencies have been helping male phone calls to these people and visiting if they don’t get a response.

“A lot of our community groups are really stepping-up and looking after people but please contact council if you need help.”

Food is being provided to vulnerable sectors in the community by the council.

If people are struggling to pay, council will pick up the cost in the first instance, Brian says.

To contact council for help, ring the 24-hour number on 520 7400 or email [email protected]

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.