MidCentral DHB’s Medical Officer of Health Patrick O’Connor said the two separate cases had been confirmed in MidCentral today.
The first case involved a male in his 40s who had contracted the virus following contact with an overseas visitor in Queenstown.
The man has been in self-isolation at home with his family since flying back to Palmerston North on 13 March.
The second case involved a woman in her 20s who returned to Palmerston North from overseas on 16 March. The woman has been in isolation at home since her return.
Both individuals were tested through the newly established designated testing facilties in the MidCentral DHB region.
Dr O’Connor said both confirmed cases had done the right thing by isolating themselves and their families upon returning to the region.
“Both of the people who have been diagnosed as confirmed cases of COVID-19 have done everything as they should have. We are currently following up with air travel close contacts through the national contact tracing service.”
Dr O’Connor said due to the vigilance of these individuals and their families there was no wider risk to the MidCentral community from these confirmed cases.
“If people in our region stay vigilant and remember to take the right precautions if they are feeling unwell, then the chance of a community outbreak will remain low.”
“To minimise the spread of this new virus our advice remains the same: cover coughs and sneezes, wash and dry your hands thoroughly especially after coughing or sneezing, and stay at home if you are sick.
“If you are experiencing symptoms you should first and foremost contact the dedicated Healthline number - 0800 358 5453. They will direct you for testing or treatment if necessary.
MidCentral DHB Chief Executive Kathryn Cook said five designated testing sites had been set up in the DHB’s five localities of Palmerston North City, Ōtaki, Manawatū District, Tararua District and Horowhenua District. A steady number of people had been using these facilities since they were opened. Access to the testing sites is by referral from Healthline or your General Practice Team.
From next week, Community Based Assessment Centres will be able to be established if required.
“The DHB has been planning for the possibility of COVID-19 reaching the MidCentral region. We have robust systems in place to manage any cases, prevent spread and look after the health of our local communities.”
“I would like to reassure the community that we are are committed to ensuring staff and services at MidCentral DHB and in Primary Care are appropropriately prepared to support our population in managing any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.”
Ms Cook said the arrival of confirmed cases in the MidCentral region meant the DHB would be implementing a stricter policy regarding visitors to Palmerston North Hospital and the Horowhenua Health Centre.
“From now on we will be allowing patients to have one key support person and one visitor. We also ask that no children under the age of 15 visit the hospital. Exceptions for people who are seriously ill will be made on a case-by-case basis.”
Further information about COVID-19 can be found on the Ministry of Health website: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus