Wairarapa Hospital. PHOTO/FILE

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Wairarapa District Health Board and Regional Public Health are preparing for the arrival of coronavirus in anticipation of it reaching New Zealand’s shores.

Regional Public Health general manager Peter Gush wrote a two-and-a-half-page report on coronavirus for the Wairarapa District Health Board meeting being held today.

As of Tuesday, there had been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand.

But the report stated the likelihood of one or more cases being imported into New Zealand from China was high.

This was despite containment measures in China, and a ban on any foreign travellers who had visited mainland China.

Other countries the virus had spread to had a low-to-moderate risk of bringing the virus to New Zealand, but the report noted this could change in future.

Coronavirus. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

An incident management team at Regional Public Health was overseeing the DHB’s response to coronavirus, supported by watch groups from Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs.

The watch groups were staffed by clinical leaders, senior managers, and representatives from the infectious disease services, occupational health, the communications unit, and emergency management.

If the situation escalated, a formal incident management team would be established.

The hospitals were being led by local incident control teams and were working on measures needed to manage any local presentations of coronavirus and the equipment required to deal with it.

“These teams are meeting frequently each week to ensure that the teams are well briefed and that resources are available across our provider network and that the health and safety of staff is well managed,” the report said.

The three DHBs are providing training and advice for frontline staff in hospitals and primary health.

“Since January 7, Regional Public Health had issued seven public health advisories and two latest information summaries to primary care and the wider health sector.

“Given the assessment of the likelihood of importation, the likelihood of transmission in New Zealand and the public health impact, the overall public health risk from this event is considered high.”

Globally, there have been more than 78,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 2300 deaths.

Although it has yet to reach our shores, the economic impacts have already been felt in the fishing, forestry, and agriculture industries in Wairarapa.