Media advisory #10 – Welfare call centre key part of coronavirus response


30 March 2020

As well as people’s health, a key focus of the Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) response to the coronavirus outbreak is the general welfare of the community.

The EOC understands that there is anxiety out in the community and, as we go through the lockdown period and stay safe in our bubbles, people will need help and reassurance.

So a call centre has been set up to co-ordinate the response for those in need. It will operate between 8am and 5pm from today, Monday, 30 March, 2020. The call centre number is 06 349 0001.

The EOC asks that people keep a check on friends, family and neighbours, observing social distancing and using the phone, online messaging, or just chatting over the fence from a safe two-metre distance.

If people need support, they should ask whānau or friends whether they can help, or contact a social agency if they are linked to one. Otherwise they can call the welfare team on 06 349 0001.

Whanganui EOC is urging people not to travel outside of the region as one of our primary defences against Covid-19 is strict adherence to remaining within the confines of our communities.

This week, the EOC will be looking to move its base from Whanganui Hospital to the Whanganui District Council building, as the multi-sector response to coronavirus develops.

Key health information
▪ A total of three cases of coronavirus COVID-19 are confirmed in the Whanganui region as at 1pm on Monday, 30 March 2020. These three people are self-isolating in one house in the Ruapehu District, and do not need hospitalisation.
▪ In confirmed cases of COVID-19, Public Health staff will be in daily contact with those affected, and contact tracing will be undertaken.
▪ 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.
▪ In the Waimarino region there will be a reduced maternity service commencing Monday, 30 March, 2020, as there is only one midwife available. This means all women due to give birth in the next four weeks will be advised to do so in Whanganui Hospital.
▪ Pregnant women can still have a support person from their bubble during labour and birth, and can hold their new-born skin to skin and share a room with their baby. However, they must wash hands and dry them thoroughly before and after touching baby. Seeing a midwife for routine and urgent visits is still necessary throughout lockdown. The midwife will do as much consultation as they can over the phone or via video conferencing, and the number of face-to-face visits may be reduced. Please talk to your midwife if you have any queries.

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

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 the hospital ED – please phone first.