NZ lockdown – day 2: More cases, demand for protective clothing

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Protective gowns for doctors and nurses are in demand (clockwise from top left), couriers say NZ Post is not doing enough to make them feel safe, two German tourists wait for a flight home and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praises the work being done by medical lab scientists. Images: RNZ

By RNZ News

As the number of Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic cases in New Zealand increases, daily demand for protective clothing for medical workers has come under pressure.

On the second day of the country’s lockdown, the number of New Zealand’s Covid-19 cases has jumped by 85, with a man in his 70s who has underlying health conditions in Nelson Hospital’s intensive care unit on a ventilator.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told the media today that of the 85 new cases in New Zealand over the last 24 hours, 76 were confirmed cases, while nine were probable cases.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera coronavirus live updates – more than 510,000 people infected globally

There have now been 368 Covid-19 cases in New Zealand and eight people are in hospital.

Two inmates at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison are also in isolation amid fears they may have contracted the coronavirus – but one is refusing to be tested.


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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has praised the country’s medical lab scientists for their role in the tracking, tracing and elimination of Covid-19.

An average of 1479 Covid-19 tests a day are being processed, she said at a media conference.

Ardern said 1823 scientists at eight labs across the country were processing incoming tests 24 hours a day “to get the job done.”

Retired health workers join fight
Dr Bloomfield said more than 2500 retired health care workers, who were no longer practising, had offered to come back and join the fight against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the government has asked suppliers to urgently find 500,000 protective gowns for doctors and nurses battling the pandemic because supply from China is disrupted, but companies say they will not be able to meet the demand.

One of the country’s major suppliers – which asked not to be named – said it could not find a factory to make them and there would be no plane to fly them to New Zealand.

The thinktank McGuinness Institute in Wellington, wants the country’s hospitals to release their full stocktake of all protective equipment, including items such as gowns and oxygen tanks.

Dr Bloomfield later said they were leaving no stone unturned to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies were replenished and new processes were being established to ensure community workers and pharmacies were protected and provided with PPE.

The senior doctors union, the Association of Salaried Medical Staff, said that vital supplies of the protective equipment were going missing from hospitals.

Its director Sarah Dalton said that thefts and hoarding of masks, scrubs and hand sanitiser was putting the safety of frontline health workers at risk.

Courier drivers feel ‘unsafe’
Courier drivers for New Zealand Post in Wellington say the company is not doing enough to make them feel safe as they work through the lockdown.

Some workers said they were not given the option of not working and they had only been given a pair of gloves and a small bottle of hand sanitiser, and up to 100 people are being forced to share a few, dirty toilets.

Some people still want to return to, leave or even get around the country as New Zealand and many other countries lock down in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.

German tourists Susi Vormvald and Alina Stamm were waiting to fly out of Auckland after the German government announced that it would evacuate nearly 80,000 of its citizens who are stranded abroad.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre.

 

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