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Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

Wairarapa has received funding to support people with covid-19 or those who are close contacts to isolate in the community.

A Wairarapa District Health Board spokesperson confirmed $120,000 had been granted for initial planning and start-up work.

“It is too soon to comment on any finer detail, or what this will look like locally,” the spokesperson said.

At the September DHB meeting, executive leader of planning and performance Sandra Williams said work was under way on Wairarapa’s Community Support in Isolation/Quarantine [SIQ] plan.

“SIQ is a local community response to people who need to isolate within the community,” she said.

“Every DHB is required to have one of these programmes.

“I suspect, as the borders open, we will be needing these facilities.”

Funded by the Ministry of Health, the programme aimed to help those who could not isolate at home to quarantine safely elsewhere in community-based ‘bubbles’.

According to a paper authored by Williams and presented at the meeting, SIQ would also provide “any service needed to support [the] maintenance of isolation/quarantine ‘bubble’” and “enable separate isolation/quarantine of cases and contacts to reduce risks of cross-infection”.

The DHB would work with providers to provide SIQ facilities in the event of a Wairarapa covid case, it said.

“We are working on making sure that we have places for people to be,” Williams said.

“We haven’t had any luck with our typical accommodation providers.”

However, other options were being explored and one aged-care facility had offered the use of a few empty beds, Williams said.

Board member Joy Cooper said the programme was an important piece of work.

“If RPH [Regional Public Health] messages you and says that you need to stay home immediately, would you have what you need?”

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said most people who contracted covid-19 were transferred to a quarantine facility, and this would remain its primary approach.

“A very small number of people may not be able to self-isolate at home because, for example, they live with a vulnerable person or in a large household. Likewise, some people may not be able to support themselves and their families while isolating at home without assistance,” the spokesperson said.

“The ministry has been working with DHBs since 2020 to develop a community-based isolation and quarantine service to respond to potential community outbreaks.

“The form any alternative accommodation takes will be decided by the local DHB, and so may vary, but could include motel units or property owned or rented by the DHB.”

The Community SIQ programme provided wrap-around welfare, well-being, and health services, the spokesperson said. Contracting with DHBs began in June this year.

“Co-ordinators are in place in DHBs around the country, with central backing from the Ministry of Health. While this service is government-funded, it is DHB-led and will reflect local level circumstances and solutions.”



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