Pravda there is no news; in Izvestiya there is no
Russian, Pravda means “truth” and Izvestiya means “news”)
morning my partner rushed in to tell my this news which was on the
early morning news on RNZ. When I tried to find an article on this I
tried looking it up using two search engines and finally found ONE
article which had it.
we are not supposed to know because a single sentence is embedded in
the articles that most people would miss.
is the article I found, thanks to the headline.
a look. Despite the headline, you have to go down a long way to find
reference to the most important news – that 43 medical staff have
been potentially exposed to coronavirus.
TV3 for making it the headline.
These were the “happy headlines” at the time on RNZ.
hospital staff among Kiwi
cases’ close contacts
Ministry of Health has revealed the number of close and casual
contacts for each of New Zealand’s confirmed coronavirus cases.
fifth COVID-19 coronavirus case in the country was confirmed on
Saturday. She is the partner of the third case, the man in his 40s
who is understood to have contracted the illness from his father who
recently visited Iran.
part of the Ministry’s protocols in responding to the illness, which
has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide and killed at least
3400, it is tracing people who may have come into close contact with
the infected individuals before they were placed into isolation.
contacts are defined as people who have been within a metre of an
infected individual for more than 15 minutes. Casual contacts, on the
other hand, are people who were face to face with an infected person
for less than 15 minutes or in the same closed space for less than
of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Saturday that officials had
gone to extensive lengths to identify and get in touch with contacts
of the five infected New Zealanders. He also revealed the number of
contacts traced for each infected person.
one – A person in their 60s who recently visited Iran and is
currently in a stable condition in hospital: 26 close contacts, 126
two – A woman in their 30s who recently visited northern Italy and
returned to New Zealand last week. She went on a return trip to
Palmerston North and to two medical centres: Around 100 close
contacts and more than 300 casual contacts.
three – A man in their 40s who likely contracted the illness of his
father who recently went to Iran: 18 close contacts, seven casual
four – The partner of case two who went to the Tool concert last
Friday night: Eight close contacts.
casual contacts for the fifth case, the partner of case three, are
still being traced.
Director-General explained that all casual contacts should be aware
of how they are feeling and get in touch with Healthline if they
begin to feel unwell or have any concerns. Close contacts have been
asked to self-isolate.
are also two probable cases. One is the father of case three, while
the second is a woman in her 70s who was on the Grand Princess cruise
ship, which currently has 21 infected individuals on board.
woman arrived back in the country on February 25 and went to North
Shore Hospital for several days for an unrelated reason. She was
eventually discharged but is now back in hospital. While she has
tested negative for coronavirus, Dr Bloomfield says she is still
being treated as probable.
were about 80 staff at North Shore Hospital who were involved in her
treatment when she was first admitted. Of those, 43 are considered
close contacts and are currently in isolation, where they will remain
until the end of a 14 day period, which began when they first met the
a] purely precautionary measure, none are symptomatic,” Dr
are in a phase where we are seeing more cases, and we are actively
trying to find cases through testing.
have a good plan and a thorough public health response that has been
demonstrated to work both here and elsewhere.
own efforts to encourage everyone to play their part are picking up
and from today we’ll see more public messaging in bus shelters
about the steps people can take to protect themselves and others by
covering coughs, sneezes and washing hands.”
we know about coronavirus
is primarily spread through droplets in the air after someone sneezes
or coughs. However, it can also be contracted by touching surfaces
where the illness is present, according to the World Health
Organisation. The length of time the virus stays alive on surfaces is
unknown at this stage, but some viruses can remain active for days.
WHO was first informed of cases of the virus in Wuhan on December 31.
It was identified as a coronavirus on January 7 and can spread
through human-to-human transmission.
signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough,
shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases,
infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome,
kidney failure and even death,” the WHO says.
recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand
washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone
showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and
is currently no vaccine for the sickness.
can I protect myself?
touching the mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands
your hands before eating
a hand sanitiser at all times
particularly mindful of touching your face after using public
transport or going to the airport
tissues at all times to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or
sneezing (then dispose of it)
eating shared or communal food
shaking hands, kissing cheeks
cleaning and sanitise commonly used surfaces and items, such as
phones and keys
close contact with people suffering from or showing symptoms of
acute respiratory infection
medical attention if you feel unwell.
full explainer on protecting yourself from coronavirus can be found
here, while here are eight things you should know about the virus.
Ministry of Health is reminding the public to get in touch with
Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if they have symptoms or concerns.
‘stretched to breaking point’
as dozens of staff
Hospitals are being stretched to breaking point by the worsening coronavirus outbreak and will need extra support, union bosses say.
The Ministry of Health confirmed New Zealand’s fifth case of the virus on Saturday.
It is treating two others as probable cases – one, a woman who returned to New Zealand from the infected Grand Princess cruise ship docked off California; the other, a family member of two of the already-confirmed cases.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said hundreds of close contacts of the five confirmed cases had been identified, all of whom are in self-isolation for 14 days, including 43 staff from North Shore Hospital.
Dr Deborah Powell, national secretary for the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association, said medical staff were under extraordinary pressure, and District Health Boards had to prioritise their wellbeing.
“We are stretched. We are really stretched,” said Powell.
“It’s not just our doctors and nurses, it’s our laboratory staff and our radiologists.”
“There are a whole lot of people in the hospital system that are stretched. There isn’t any more give in our system anymore, we are at our limit.”
Powell said DHBs needed to be treating clinical frontline staff “properly”, including making sure they were adequately protected at work.
“They’ll work themselves to exhaustion. They’ll give it their all for their patients, really put themselves at risk because they care.
“They are carers. They work long hours, they suffer burnout, they’re a dedicated, truly committed bunch of people.”
As such, DHBs needed to make care of staff a “priority”. “You’ve got to look after them. They will look after the patients.”
Powell feared the “double whammy” of a rapid increase in coronavirus cases coinciding with the flu season.
“People are turning up to ED with a cold and asking to be tested despite not meeting the criteria… [is an] additional load on frontline staff, to have to deal with people who are genuinely worried, but have no need to be.”
She reiterated advice that people should phone ahead in the first instance of being symptomatic, and stay home. “The best way to contain this virus is exactly that, containment.”
New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation associate professional services manager Hilary Graham-Smith said coronavirus was going to place an “enormous strain” on the public health system. “Our hospitals and our resources are already really stretched.”
Concerns had been raised about workers not having the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves safe from the virus, Graham-Smith said, which had been brought up with several DHBs already.
Existing health and safety legislation outlines that workers must be appropriately protected.
Anxious members had approached Graham-Smith directly, asking whether the public health system would “actually be ready” to cope with a sustained community outbreak.
Many workers also questioned their employers directly about the country’s state of readiness, she said.
“Where will those extra staff come from? That’s the 64 million dollar question. We are already understaffed.”
In disasters like the Christchurch earthquakes and mosque shootings, nurses and doctors typically “get their boots on and provide whatever is required”, she said.
But the truth is, it’s not known exactly how many people will be needed – it won’t be known until the situation evolves, she said.
“Underfunding of the system is like a chronic condition in New Zealand. We see that in terms of the nursing workforce and pressure they’re under on a daily basis. If we get a rapid increase in cases … that would be significant cause for concern.”
Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Saturday that every DHB had been contacted to ensure they had enough PPE for staffers.
Healthline had been training “lots” of new staff to keep up with the increase in call volume.
There was a “whole range of things under way” to help the wider health system cope with an outbreak, Bloomfield said.
The health ministry had spoken with both the Medical Council and Nursing Council about re-issuing recently-retired doctors and nurses with practicing certificates, if extra staff were required.
Every DHB also had a “good plan” in place, which they were refining, he said. Hospitals could possibly look at shutting down entire wards to treat coronavirus patients, Bloomfield said.
Several DHBs contacted by Stuff reiterated they were “well placed” to deal with a coronavirus outbreak, however little detail was provided about what that would look like in reality.
Worldwide, there have been more than 101,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and more than 3400 deaths. New Zealand’s health ministry remains adamant the risk of a sustained community outbreak is low.
In Australia, a doctor who has tested positive for coronavirus consulted about 70 Melbourne patients for five days while infected.
Health Minister David Clark was unavailable for comment.
Additional reporting: Hannah Martin
But there will be!
I added my own thoughts on Facebook