Media advisory # 17 Whanganui stays steady with seven confirmed cases

MOH COVID 19 FB 1080x1080 Update7 April 2020


The Whanganui District Health Board region has received a correction on case numbers and the Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre can confirm we have had seven cases of coronavirus in the region.


All are related to overseas travel.


On Sunday, the Ministry of Health website added an eighth case to the Whanganui region.


This case is a man in his 20s living in Auckland. He was tested and diagnosed in Auckland, however the address recorded for him in the health database is a Whanganui address, so he was incorrectly attributed to Whanganui.


The DHB understands he has not lived in Whanganui for some time, nor visited Whanganui for some time. This case has now been correctly attributed to Auckland.


Five people are recovering in self-isolation in two different homes in the Ruapehu district and two are in the Whanganui district. Public Health staff are in daily contact with them and contact tracing has been undertaken.


Over the Easter long weekend, the community-based assessment centre at Whanganui Hospital will be open as usual – 8am to 9pm, seven days a week.


However, the other assessment centres will be closing on Thursday afternoon through to Easter Monday inclusive, re-opening Tuesday, April 14.


These are located at:

Whanganui - Gonville Health Centre, Abbott Street - 9am to 4pm;

Whanganui - Te Oranganui Health Centre, Wicksteed Street – 8.30am – 5pm (for those enrolled with Te Oranganui Trust services as well as other Iwi organisations and services);

Marton – Blackwell Street, Marton – 9am to 4pm;

Taihape - Taihape Hospital Campus - 9am to 4.30pm;

Ruapehu - Raetihi Community Space, 42 Seddon Street - 9am to 4.30pm.


Key Whanganui Region health information

· We ask people to stay home, and to look after themselves, and the people they care most for. By staying home, they can help slow the spread of the virus and break the chain.

· We can slow the spread if we all work together. Physical separation of two metres is of the utmost importance outside your bubble, but that does not mean social separation, so keep in touch by other means.

· Remember to regularly wash your hands and dry them well.

· And always cough and sneeze into your elbow.

· Reminder – The only hospital visiting allowed is one visitor for patients: At end stage of life, in the Critical Care Unit, in the Maternity Unit, and in the Children’s Ward. All visitors must be part of the patient’s bubble.

· Whanganui Hospital is open 24/7 for critical cases and those patients who need urgent care.


If you are unwell:

· Phone the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

· If you are going to your general practice (GP) - phone first.

· If you are so unwell you need to come to Whanganui Hospital’s emergency department –please phone first.


Need assistance during the lockdown

· For Whanganui call 06 3490001 - this line operates 8am to 5pm with an after-hours response after that.

· For the Manawatu-Whanganui Civil Defence & Emergency Management welfare helpline call 0800 725678 which operates 7am to 7pm seven days a week.

· For Ruapehu south (Waimarino) call 06 3858364 – this line operates 24/7.


For more information

· To keep up to date with local information about important health services in the Whanganui Region visit or

· Te Ranga Tupua Collective Iwi Response – phone 0800 202 004 for help, advice and support for whānau in the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, Otaihape and South Taranaki Region · For national information visit  or

No tolerance for abuse of frontline staff



CBAC staff in Whanganui

5 April 2020


Everyone who interacts with essential service workers during the COVID-19 outbreak is reminded that abuse will not be tolerated.


Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre controller Stuart Hylton is reminding people that these key workers – such as those working in supermarkets, dairies and other food supply chains, accommodation, pharmacies, government agencies, media and infrastructure, medical staff and more – should be treated kindly and with patience and respect at all times.


“Essential workers are doing their job for the benefit of all of us and they deserve kindness and respect during what is a stressful time for everyone. I would like to personally thank everyone who is on the frontline for the hard work and dedication they are providing for all of us.”


Mr Hylton said there had been some abuse of frontline medical staff at the community-based assessment centres (CBACs).


“Abuse of the CBAC team will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Police will continue to have a presence at the CBACs to enforce good behaviour and they will take action if people are being disruptive or abusive,” Mr Hylton says.


“The frontline CBAC staff are an important line of defence against the spread of COVID-19 in our region -- they are doing a most important job and need the community’s support.”


Filming or photographing the CBAC buildings and staff members is also unacceptable, Mr Hylton says.


As of 1 April 2020, the Ministry of Health’s new case definition is that anyone with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be considered for testing regardless of travel history or contact with a confirmed case.


Dr Paul Nealis, Primary Care Primary Liaison Doctor and clinical lead for the CBACs, says the CBAC teams in the Whanganui region are available to talk to people who are unwell to determine whether they need to be tested for COVID-19.


“Doctors at the CBACs will make clinical decisions based on the symptoms people have when we see them. Not everyone who is unwell and shows up to a CBAC will be tested for COVID-19, but we might provide them with other medical advice or refer them,” Dr Nealis says.


“The team from Red Cross is also on site to provide mental health and social support during this uncertain time.


“We have sufficient testing kits to meet the need at present and the situation is reassessed each day, with contingency plans to meet the need should demand grow.


“But we also need the community to be patient and kind to the team at the CBACs as we are doing our best for the health of all people in our community and are on the frontline ourselves,” Mr Nealis says.



WAM's virtual consultations "positive & easy"


forsyth family

Alex Forsyth with her three children

6 April 2020


Alex Forsyth, Director of Allied Health Scientific and Technical at the Whanganui District Health Board, says having her three children checked out by the Whanganui Accident and Medical clinic (WAM) over the weekend was a positive experience and much easier than she had anticipated.


She says, “All of my children needed to be checked out, so I asked for a virtual consultation with WAM. I initially spoke to a really lovely nurse for triage, who quickly identified I needed to talk to a doctor and told me I would be contacted back.


“A doctor did call me back, and quickly but thoroughly diagnosed all three of my children with their ‘garden-variety’ ails and ills – and offered to fax their prescriptions to the Springvale pharmacy.


“A quick pick-up from Springvale after a text from them and I had the prescriptions.”


Alex Forsyth says, “There was no waiting, no wasting of anyone’s time. Although there were several hours between my request and the doctors consult, it felt like nothing as I was able to get on with other tasks at work.


“The consultations themselves didn’t feel rushed and were thorough, with clear solutions – a win all around.”


Judith MacDonald, Operations Lead at the Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre, says people may not realise WAM is still available for after-hours consultations. “We are offering after-hours assessment and consultations over the phone and we can arrange prescriptions for you to collect from your nearest pharmacy.”


She says it’s important people follow up on health concerns early, rather than leaving it until a minor issue becomes more serious. “You can still call your GP for an appointment, you can still contact WAM for after-hours medical care and, fortunately in Whanganui, you can still access urgent dental care.”


“General practices across our region are still operating, offering virtual and face-to-face clinical care. If you are not certain please ring your practice provider. WAM is still operating as an Urgent Care Accident and Medical clinic seven days per week for accidents.”


Community-based assessment centres (CBACs) around the district are seeing all people that have symptoms common to COVID-19. This ensures that WAM is remaining a “clean clinical care space”.


Ms MacDonald says, ”An important message for the community is to ring first if you possibly can.” 




View all Whanganui DHB media releases here