Calls for extra vigilance during Mardi Gras weekend


6 November 2020


With more than 7000 people expected at Mardi Gras in Ohakune on Saturday, health officials are calling for locals and visitors to be extra vigilant for virus symptoms.


“Though our COVID-19 response is at Alert Level 1, we must remain alert to the possibility of the virus re-emerging,” a Whanganui District Health Board spokesman said this week.


“There is an ongoing risk that further community cases will emerge, and the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the community is much greater at lower alert levels when there are no restrictions on gatherings such as at the Mardi Gras.”


The most important thing to remember is to stay home if you are unwell, and seek advice on getting a test, he said.


“If you have cold or flu symptoms – a fever, runny nose, a cough, shortness of breath or loss of sense of smell -- we recommend you stay home, isolate yourself, and call your GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.”


COVID-19 testing is free and available weekdays at Ruapehu Health in Seddon Street, Raetihi, and at the testing centre at Whanganui Hospital which is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3.30pm.


This coming weekend, those with symptoms can be seen at Whanganui Accident & Medical (WAM) at Whanganui Hospital. WAM is open 8am and 9pm seven days a week.


The spokesman also urged people to adopt basic hygiene procedures such as washing their hands with soap; coughing and sneezing into their elbow; and cleaning surfaces.


“People should also use the NZ COVID Tracer app, which is a free download, to scan QR Codes wherever they go.


“Scanning QR Codes gives us a head-start on breaking any chain of transmission, which means the virus has less time to spread. The more we scan, the safer we’ll be.”


Those who can't use the app, should use other means to keep track of their movements.


While face masks are not mandatory, the Ministry of Health recommends wearing them when people cannot maintain good physical distancing in crowded indoor spaces. They should also be worn on public transport.


Whanganui DHB and the Whanganui Regional Health Network will have a COVID-19 testing van in Ohakune next Thursday, November 12. It will focus on community testing, visiting some businesses and then being parked in the town centre, available for free tests till about 2.30pm.