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Several Lakes District Hospital staff will be tested as a precaution after a nurse at the hospital tested positive for Covid-19 as the health board explores several possible methods of exposure including community transmission.

The Southern District Health Board said in a statement today it is testing 36 staff and undertaking extensive cleaning of Lakes District Hospital, following the nurse's positive test result.

"The Public Health team is investigating to find out how the nurse contracted the virus. We are aware of a number of cases in the Queenstown likely due to community transmission and are exploring all possible ways of exposure for this nurse.

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"While there have been two Covid-19 patients cared for at Lakes District Hospital, the nurse did not provide care directly to either of these patients.

"Lakes District Hospital is a small facility and the nurse was in contact with a number of staff members in the days prior to the onset of symptoms, when she could have been infectious. She was not in contact with any patients during this time.

"All of the staff she has had close contact with are self-isolating for 14 days with immediate effect.

"As a precaution, we are also testing staff and undertaking an extensive clean of the hospital facility.

"Our thoughts are with our staff member who has received this news today. We thank everyone for their support at this time, and ask that the privacy of the nurse involved, and that of all staff, is respected as we take the steps we need to manage this situation.

"During the period of testing and cleaning, Lakes District Hospital will continue to operate its emergency department. Any patient who requires admission will be transferred to another facility.

"Primary maternity services remain open. As part of our Covid preparation, Southern DHB has relocated the primary birthing unit to a separate building on the Lakes District hospital site; this is now open."

SDHB Covid-19 Patient Management

The SDHB also said as per its emergency planning response, every individual who comes through a hospital entrance is screened appropriately.

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"This includes being asked a series of questions for Covid-19 and a recording of their details. If visitors are unwell, they are not able to visit.

"To ensure the health and safety of our current patients and hospital staff, Southern DHB is not allowing visitors to Dunedin, Southland and Lakes District Hospitals except on compassionate grounds.

"Patients who test positive for Covid-19 and require hospitilisation will be managed appropriately as per our organisational planning.

"As always, we are following the national guidelines and encouraging anyone who develops symptoms of Covid-19 to contact their regular doctor or call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website