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Follow advice and be prepared

The Wairoa District Council is working at a regional and local level to support our community through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

While there are no known cases in the Wairoa district, there is a localised coordinated approach, involving all government agencies and other organisations, to ensure the district is prepared.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the announcement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, that we are now at Level 3 in the COVID-19 alert system and preparing to move to Level 4, endorses the necessity for everyone to be prepared and follow advice.

We are a resilient community that understands the importance of preparation.”

Mr Little said Council’s chief executive Steven May is in charge of the operational response and is updated regularly by Local Government New Zealand and guided by the Ministry of Health and Civil Defence as well as other Government Departments.

“Steven has considerable experience in responding and controlling this type of situation including previous experience in civil defence and police roles.”

Council is also being advised via a pandemic response framework for council-run essential and operational services which has been developed to guide the sector through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Little said the priority is keeping people safe and he encourages everyone to follow the advice being given by the Government and the Ministry of Health.

“We are we are now at Alert Level Three with Level Four pending. This will impact all levels of our communities and it is so important people follow the advice of the Government by staying home, limiting social contacts and avoiding all non-essential travel.

“In particular, those people over 70, or for Maori and Pacifica aged 60, or people who have a compromised immunity or underlying respiratory conditions, should stay at home and limit contact with other people.

“We must all follow the advice to limit community transmission of this disease.”

Mr Little is currently in self-isolation, in line with the Government’s guidance for travellers returning to New Zealand from overseas, as he and his wife Jan had been on holiday in Australia.

“While we are adhering to this precautionary measure, I will continue in my role as Mayor and will work remotely, ie, via teleconference and/or video conferencing into meetings and appointments, to ensure business continuity.

“The Council Is well placed to handle remote access for staff who have roles that are essential for the running of Council such as waste, 3 Waters, and maintaining a functional administration to serve the community.

“Council conducted a work at home scenario a couple of weeks ago, and again on the weekend, for staff involved in supplying critical services to ensure Council business continuity.

“Our staff-initiated business continuity exercises ensure our IT infrastructure allows us to work remotely.

“We will continue to refine our approach and initial indications have shown us that our system is well placed to handle a situation if all our staff were to work remotely, including from home if necessary.

“These exercises should give us confidence that essential services will continue, i.e. water running through our taps and being able to flush the toilet, rubbish collection and safe roads.

“We’ve been testing our systems and assessing our ability to work remotely for a little while now and we are well on the way to planning and

“My example of going into self-isolation is an excellent example of ensuring our services are able to continue if we are required to work from home.

“Because of Council’s planning, I am able to continue working and able to access work without having to go into the office.

“This is an evolving situation and we’re responding appropriately and readying ourselves for changes as they come to hand.

“Coronavirus has tragic consequences from a health perspective and its impact is disrupting the entire world on every level.

“The Wairoa District Council will continue to operate all its services, and like other local authorities throughout the country, will be regularly reviewing its situation and response in relation to Government announcements and directives.

“The Council encourages everyone, from people visiting our district to our local residents, to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health around the basic protective measures against COVID-19.

“Make sure you stay aware of all the latest information being released as the situation is changing rapidly.

“Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

“Maintain social distancing. The best way to stay safe is to stay away from people, this is especially so for the elderly.

“Finally look after each other. Make sure your neighbours, again particularly the elderly are safe and have everything they need to stay comfortable.

“If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early by phoning the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or phoning your local GP practice.

Visit www.covid19.govt.nz for up to date information and watch the live updates on tv or listen to the radio.

23 March 2020

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