COVID-19 safety tips and hospital services over Christmas


15 December 2020


Dr Patrick O’Connor, Medical Officer of Health, says more people are likely to be travelling into and out of the Whanganui region and socialising generally over the holiday period so extra caution is needed to prevent potential spread of COVID-19.


“There are always health and safety considerations over the holidays – such as care around drinking alcohol, using our roads safely and being sun smart – but this year we need to pay extra attention because of COVID-19,” says Dr O’Connor.


“Don’t travel or take part in events if you are unwell. If you are hosting events or work parties, encourage friends and whānau who are sick to stay home. Maintain social distancing when out and about if you are around people you don’t know, track your movements using the COVID-19 Tracer app or keep a written journal. If you are travelling, pack hand sanitiser, a mask and cleaning products.”


Wearing a face mask on public transport to and from Auckland, and on all domestic flights, is mandatory.


Dr O’Connor says everyone should also continue to maintain good hygiene practices by washing and drying hands, using sanitiser, coughing or sneezing into elbows and regularly cleaning surfaces and objects which are touched often.


“COVID-19 alert levels may change and people should have back up plans for Christmas and New Year if that becomes the case. However, while we are at Alert Level 1 and the virus is contained, being cautious will help us ‘make summer unstoppable’”.  


If you are travelling, COVID-19 testing is available throughout New Zealand over the holiday period. Call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your GP to find out where testing services are open closest to where you are staying.


The Whanganui hospital community based assessment centre (CBAC) is open throughout the holiday period from Monday to Friday, 8am to 3.30pm, expect on public holidays.


Dr O’Connor says other ways to keep safe and healthy include driving carefully, planning a sober driver if you are drinking and storing food at appropriate temperatures.


“I hope this will be a relaxing time for people to spend with whānau and friends, after the unusual and sometimes stressful year we have all had,” he says.