Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group is ready to support the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board in case COVID-19 reaches our region.
Group Manager Ian Macdonald said the group had activated its emergency coordination centre to support the DHB, which on Monday put its emergency response structure in place to prepare and respond to the pandemic.
Mr Macdonald said the group was focusing on planning to provide welfare services to people who didn’t need health services but might need help in other ways.
“The DHB is understandably extremely busy right now planning and preparing for a possible community outbreak, so we will be stepping in to ease the burden on health services,” Mr Macdonald said.
“We’re building on the work we started in late January by developing more detailed plans to support people who need it – but we also need our community to play their part by looking after each other as much as possible.
“We can all do our bit to reduce the demands on our health service, by working out with our family and friends on how we can all look after each other.”
He encouraged businesses and individuals to continue planning in case the virus started to be transmitted within the community.
“People should think about what they need to do if they had to be in self-isolation for two weeks. Are you set up to do online shopping? Can a friend drop things at your door? Think about medications, as well as food, pet food and other essential supplies.”
Mr Macdonald said the group was coordinating with other agencies to help meet the basic needs of people who were struggling.
“We know it’s all too easy to say, ‘just order your groceries online’, or ‘work from home – you’ll be fine.’ But for some people in self-isolation, it’s just not that simple.
“While most people will be able to manage self-isolation on their own or with help from their family and friends, we’re putting plans in place to help those who really need it.”
Mr Macdonald said maintaining community connections was especially important for people who must self-isolate.
“When it comes to COVID-19 – or any widespread illness or stressor – we all do better when we lean on and support each other.
“Call friends and relatives and see how they are, or chat to them online. Technology can’t replace the power of human connection, but there are ways of staying in touch that will help.
“Everyone, sick or healthy, stays in better spirits knowing they are part of a community.”
He said the group was also making contingency plans in case a different emergency were to arise while the community was dealing with a pandemic.
"We know that other emergencies can happen at any time, so we’re working on how we can respond to any other event while the region may be affected by COVID-19.”
For more information on COVID-19, visit www.health.govt.nz
18 March 2020
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