Bay social agencies are handing out cell phones, putting offices in lockdown and stockpiling food as organisations gear up for a possible coronavirus outbreak in the community.
As of Wednesday, the Ministry of Social Development data showed five hardship grants related to the impacts of Covid-19 had been handed out to people in the Bay of Plenty, with 84 handed out around the country.
Te Tuinga Whanau executive director Tommy Wilson said it was anticipating a widespread community infection and began preparing about a month ago.
Wilson said it had a garage filled with food, and staff were planting winter vegetables and going hunting to prepare.
"We're foraging for kai like we would before supermarkets."
He said the offices were on lockdown with clients told to call instead. Staff no longer had face-to-face contact with clients, who were being given a cell phone so staff could keep them up to date with information.
"Our focus is keeping our staff healthy. Our frontline will be crucial in taking care of the most vulnerable."
Takitimu House manager Annamarie Angus said the shelter was planning for a widespread outbreak. She was in self-isolation herself and working from home after she recently returned from an overseas trip and was looking to return to work on Monday.In this situation, the shelter would go into lockdown with no people to leave or enter the grounds, in effect becoming a residential facility.
She said Takitimu House was contracted by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and was working to put the DHB's pandemic plan in place at the shelter.
Cleaning at the shelter had been ramped up and staff were regularly disinfecting door handles, light switches and other commonly touched places.
As of Thursday,the shelter was still taking men in but the front door was locked and there was ramped-up screening over the phone where men were asked about their travel history and possible contact with infected people.
The shelter had placed a bulk food order.
She was working to get a relocatable cabin brought in to either act as an infection room or as temporary office to allow men to sleep in the existing office at the shelter.
Awhina House Angela Wallace said the shelter was taking the threat seriously.
"It's really putting the pressure on."
She said many of the women had a compromised immune system and had been taught correct handwashing technique through workshops.
Each woman had their own bedroom and could be self-isolated that way.
Around the house, surfaces were being cleaned regularly and any visitors were screened for overseas travel and contact with infected people.
The Awhina House board was meeting on Thursdayto discuss the details of the House's pandemic response.
Wallace said she was not planning to close down but was responding to the "evolving issue" as needed.
In terms of staffing, Wallace said there was a small team so a "difficult situation" would arise if any got unwell. She said the charity would seek to have staff wages subsidised through the recently announced Government support package.
Kai Aroha director Tania Lewis-Rickard said it was decided at a team meeting that the service would continue but would stop sit-down meals and only prepare takeaway meals for the next month. This decision would be reviewed in four weeks.
Lewis-Rickard said Kai Aroha had two weeks of food left. She said she went to buy more to stockpile but there was a shortage of supply.
Tauranga Salvation Army's Community Ministries manager, Davina Plummer, said large gatherings and non-necessary events had been canned but church services had continued.
At church, handshakes or hongi were discouraged and hand sanitiser was readily available.
If clients were unwell, they were asked to stay at home, she said. Urgent support was provided through email and phone, and the organisation was looking at setting up an 0800 support line.
Any staff with colds were working remotely.