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.”

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 :www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-information-specific-audiences/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-essential-workers

A question mark hangs over two large scale events in the region, including Feast Marlborough in May. File photo.

Pandemic threatens busy event season

The future of two major Marlborough events hangs in the balance amid coronavirus fears.

Organisers behind the popular Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon and Feast Marlborough are waiting for a government announcement on guidelines for large events.

No final decisions have been made as the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand rises to eight.

The move comes just three days after the last-minute cancellation of the annual Framingham Harvest Concert amid fears over the spread of Covid-19.

In an online post, Saint Clair say they have had “a number of enquiries” from people worried the May event will be cancelled.

“At this stage, we are watching the situation closely and we expect a government announcement on events in the coming days.

“We will be following their guidance on this and will update our plans accordingly. We will keep our entrants fully informed as the situation evolves.

“We will follow standard practice regarding cancellation of events, should government advice be to cancel public events.”

Feast Marlborough staff say they are closely monitoring the situation “as a matter of urgency.”

The event is scheduled to take place in May.

Shipwrecks Kidsworld in Picton is temporarily ceasing operations, shitting its doors last week.

Only parties alre4day booked will be allowed to go ahead.

“The health and safety of our young customers is extremely important to us.

“We thank you for your support over the past few years and we look forward to being of service to you again in the future,” says a spokeswoman.

Nelson Marlborough Health say there are no confirmed cases of the illness in the region.

“There are no confirmed cases in the Nelson Marlborough region and the Ministry of Health emphasises that, with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

People who have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should stay at home and seek medical advice from Healthline,” says a spokeswoman.

People with symptoms should call ahead before going to a GP clinic, pharmacy or hospital department.

New border measures are in place as of Monday. Most travellers arriving in New Zealand are now required to self-isolate for two weeks.

Phone the free Healthline number for specialised Coronavirus advice: 0800 358 5453 

The Liu family on holiday in China are in self-imposed quarantine after returning home. Photo: Supplied.

Coronavirus caution for chippy family

A Blenheim family has placed itself in self-imposed quarantine after returning from China amid coronavirus fears.

Main St Fish and Chips owner Andrew Liu says he took his family to Guangzhou to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Even though the family were forced to stay indoors for most of their visit, they have chosen to take extra precautions to protect the public, just in case.

“Most people were worried about it,” Andrew says of their visit where people are on high alert for the potentially fatal virus.

“We were told to stay home; the whole country is worried about it.”

Andrew, his wife Winnie and their three children, will stay in quarantine for the recommended 14 days.

The family arrived back in New Zealand on 31 January.

New Zealand Immigration has placed temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China to help stop the virus from spreading.

The restrictions do not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family.

Andrew’s popular Main Street takeaway shop, which temporarily closed before they left on holiday, will remain shut until the quarantine period ends.

The couple’s three children will not be attending school.

“No one is feeling sick,” Andrew says.

“It’s because we notice that when we came back, we should have self-imposed quarantine for 14 days.”

All travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China, or any travellers who have had exposure to a confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China or were exposed to novel coronavirus.

A Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) incident management team is on stand-by but not yet active. NMH has a pandemic plan and a health emergency plan in place.

Mechanical compliance coordinator Duncan Jarvie. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Coal boilers to get heave-ho at hospital

Coal hungry boilers are set to be ditched as part of a $5 million fund boost to future-proof Wairau Hospital.

Over the last eight years, three old coal boilers have burnt through an average of 8,000 tonnes of coal.

Health bosses have pledged to help reduce carbon emissions by choosing greener alternatives instead.

Health Minister David Clark last week revealed Nelson Marlborough Health was one of several health boards around the country to benefit.

Revealing the funds boost, Dr Clark says the move was part of a wider initiative to move towards more environmentally friendly options.

“In Nelson Marlborough we’re future proofing our hospitals by replacing aging, dirty coal-burning boilers with modern, green alternatives

“Today’s announcement means DHBs can get to work now on the detailed planning work needed to make all these projects, and many more, a reality.

“That will mean better health services for New Zealanders, and a more sustainable and secure future for our public health service, Dr Clark says.

Nelson Marlborough Health chief executive Peter Bramley welcomed the move, saying the boilers needed to be replaced with “some urgency.”

“We need to replace the Wairau boilers with some urgency and welcome this funding announcement.

“While we don’t know exactly what fuel source or system will be best for Wairau Hospital, we can assure the community that it will not be coal-based.

“We look forward to a ‘greener’ future for our hospitals,” he says.

A three-month trial into using a wood pellet fuelled replacement has been postponed while engineering issues are investigated further.

No time frame for the replacements is yet in place.

Robbie Parkes with his family dog has a secured a diabetic alert dog to from Australia. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Alert dog from across the ditch makes dream come true

The family of a young diabetic boy saving to buy an alert dog from Australia have secured their special pooch.

Four-year old Robbie Parkes from Linkwater and his family have been fundraising for the $20,000 dog after the youngster fell seriously ill earlier this year.

Diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, Robbie needs the new furry friend to alert his family to any major changes in his insulin levels.

The dogs are not available in New Zealand.

After three months of frantic fundraising the relieved family have raised enough to buy the dog.

Now they have turned their attentions to getting Robbie over the ditch to train with is new canine companion.

Mum Diane Parkes says she is very grateful for the community’s support.

“There are some very special people out there who have been so supportive.

“In just over three months months, we’ve raised $20,000 for the dog which is now ordered.

“We were lucky to have so many items donated for auction we had too much, so we are having this second fundraiser.

“The funds will go towards getting Robbie to Australia at the end of training and to pay insurance for dog etc,” she says.

A quiz and auction night will be held at the Woodbourne Tavern on 29 November at 7pm.

Tickets are $20 each for tables of eight people and are available from All About You lingerie shop on Maxwell Road in Blenheim or through Diane on: 021 525 630.