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Covid-19 screening cabins installed

Robyn Wilson, Ron Karaitiana, and Dale Oliff outside one of the cabins beside Wairarapa Hospital, which have been installed by Wairarapa DHB as part of a their covid-19 testing strategy. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

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The Wairarapa District Health Board has arranged for two new covid-19 screening cabins outside the main entrance of Wairarapa Hospital, as part of its defence plans against covid-19.

After community transmission was discovered in Auckland on August 11, the rest of the country was placed on Alert Level 2.

From yesterday, Auckland dropped to Alert Level 2.

A hospital spokesperson said it was not taking any risks and wanted the public to know it was for their protection and the hospital’s.

If the virus entered the facility, it would have to shut down for two weeks and stand down staff for two weeks also.

“It is just not something we can allow,” the hospital’s chief executive Dale Oliff, said.

Regarding testing, she said to “please call first because that gives us an opportunity to be prepared”.

Ron Karaitiana chief executive at Te Hauora, the Maori health group, said this was about respecting the rules and covid’s potential to cause death.

If people “are asymptomatic, we’ve got to ask those questions and talk to each other a bit better”.

If people were able to make contact on the phone first, then that would be the best option, Karaitiana said.

Robyn Wilson, general manager at Masterton Medical, said “we still need to be cautious”.

Wairarapa DHB started working on Monday with Masterton Medical to develop screening processes for anyone who showed covid-like symptoms.

The DHB are performing regular screening of their staff, as well as aged residential care facilities, community facilities, and hospital facilities.

Wilson said that if people would like to have a covid-19 test, “it is free and we’re very happy to do them”.

Face-to-face services in the community included medical and retail staff but “hospitality as well – anyone in a front-facing role”.

Oliff said that symptomatic means flu-like illnesses including symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

Wilson said Masterton Medical had been swabbing their staff, and was available to test staff from the hospital and pharmacies. They would test Wellington Free Ambulance staff too.

The three senior medical figures wanted to stress that people did not have to be symptomatic to be swabbed at the hospital; it was a free service.

They encouraged Wairarapa residents to get a test, without feeling the need to hesitate if they had symptoms.

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