Hawke’s Bay will be ramping up its COVID-19 testing in a bid to gain a true picture of how the virus is affecting the region.
There have been no new cases of COVID-19 in Hawke’s Bay for the past two days with the total for the region being 41.
Of that figure Wairoa has three known cases with one person recovered.
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Nick Jones said while no new cases had been reported for two consecutive days, more referrals for COVID-19 testing by frontline health professionals were needed in order to gain a true picture of the disease in the region.
As at Tuesday 2,276 people had been swabbed in Hawke’s Bay.
Dr Jones said the Government has been very clear that there is plenty of testing capacity.
“We need to make the most of this to detect all possible cases and to ensure there is no community transmission before lifting Level 4 restrictions.”
“We want to step-up testing regimes across the region and refer anyone showing symptoms, even mild, to community-based assessment centres for testing,” he said.
While anyone with symptoms included in the current case definition should be tested, Dr Jones said it was particularly important for essential service workers to be tested if feeling unwell, given they had spent more time out of their bubble during the Level 4 lockdown period.
“I urge anyone who is feeling unwell to take their symptoms, even if mild, seriously.
“We must take advantage of this Level 4 lockdown period to get the most accurate picture as we can of this disease in our region in order to contain it and stop any spread.”
Symptoms include cold or flu-like illness with one or more of the following: a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, a runny nose or loss of smell.
Wairoa Hospital and Health Centre manager Sonya Smith said the Wairoa Community Based Assessment Centre is fully operational and working smoothly.
“Anyone who has even the mildest of symptoms should phone their GP or healthline on 0800 358 5453 to be referred for testing.
“Once a testing appointment has been made Wairoa people should drive to Gate 3 at the Wairoa Hospital off Kitchener Street. Follow the signs, stay in your car and you will be met by assessment staff.
“People do not need to leave their car so they can stay in the safety of their bubble and be tested.
“The test isn’t painful, but it does tickle a bit and may make you want to sneeze.
“If transport is an issue, please let the booker know when you get the call back for your appointment.”
Ms Smith is grateful Wairoa is being assisted by redeployed HBDHB staff, particularly from the Ear, Nose and Throat service, and the Community Dental team.
“These staff redeployments have allowed us to keep running core services as well new processes, like managing screening from the main entrance.”
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little praised the work of the District Health Board and the local health centre and assessment centre and all the essential staff involved.
“in Wairoa we are fortunate to have only had three cases to date.
“Our challenge is to continue to follow the precautionary advice and stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Further to that anyone with even the mildest symptoms should be tested, so data from Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay can be gathered and used in the future alert level decision-making process.”
Anyone experiencing the symptoms should call their GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to be referred for testing.
There is no cost for anyone to call their GP or Healthline for an assessment/referral to a Community-Based Assessment Centre.
16 April 2020
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