Media advisory #4 Whanganui’s essential health services remain in place despite national lockdown


23 March 2020


Following the news today (Monday, March 23) that New Zealand will go into a four-week lockdown, Whanganui District Health Board is reassuring the community that essential health services will be maintained.


In response to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the lockdown, saying the country will move to alert level 3 today and to alert level 4 within 48 hours.


Schools, childcare centres and universities will be closed from March 24; all non-essential businesses and services will likely shut down; and people should stay home wherever possible.


However, Whanganui Hospital – while adopting a restricted access policy – will still be treating acute cases and delivering essential services.


Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Russell Simpson said the community should be reassured that health services were still functioning well and that there had so far been no cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in the region.


He said the DHB would be in regular communication with the community, both through traditional media and social media.


A community-based assessment centre (CBAC) for possible coronavirus COVID-19 cases has opened in the grounds of Whanganui Hospital. The assessment centre is to the right of the hospital’s main public carpark as people drive in. The service is free and is open from 8am to 9pm, seven days a week.


People who have returned from overseas or have been in close contact with someone who has returned from overseas, or who are feeling unwell, have the symptoms of high temperature, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, or are concerned they may have been exposed to COVID-19, can go to the assessment centre.


There they will be assessed and, if necessary, a swab will be taken for testing.


Other assessment centres have opened at Gonville Health and Te Oranganui to serve their local communities.


Whanganui’s Emergency Operations Centre, based at the hospital, continues to monitor the situation and co-ordinate the response from the health sector.


EOC Incident Controller Louise Allsopp said: "Our advice to everyone is look after yourself, look out for each other and be mindful of older people living alone.


“Take time to talk to children and to check in on your neighbours before the full lockdown commences at midnight on Wednesday, March 25, especially those who you know are living by themselves,” she said.


“And then keep up the support via non-physical contact once the lockdown is in place and check that they have everything they need."