South Taranaki District Council has activated its Pandemic Response Plan following the stricter border controls put in place by the Government to try and stem the spread of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand.
STDC chief executive Waid Crockett says while the risk of widespread community outbreak in New Zealand is still low, the Council's response plan has been activated to ensure essential services are kept operating should the community and council staff be widely affected.
"We want to be prepared to make sure we can best serve the community during this situation and have established our Pandemic Response Team which meets daily, to monitor and action the Pandemic Response Plan and the Ministry of Health's latest advice and guidelines.
"One of our key strategies is to promote basic hygiene messages at our public facilities and through our regular communication channels for both staff and members of the public. According to the MoH these basic hygiene measures are the most important way to stop the spread of this virus."
Waid says as well as following the MoH's hygiene guidelines, the council are putting in place more cleaning and sanitising in facilities, including installing hand sanitiser and wipes for staff and residents to use.
"At this stage, the MoH does not propose changing arrangements for smaller public meetings or gatherings (of less than 500 people) so for the time being we are continuing with Council meetings as scheduled, albeit with hygiene related guidelines."
However, following the Government's recent directive prohibiting events or gatherings of 500-plus people, a number of events in South Taranaki have been cancelled or postponed.
He says the council will be keeping a watching brief on developments and the team will be working with event organisers on a case-by-case basis.
"Right across the organisation we're following the government's requirements around self-isolation for any of our staff members who are returning to New Zealand from overseas travel and we have brought forward our annual flu vaccinations for all staff to 2 April. While this vaccine is not for Covid-19 it will have the desired effect of reducing pressure on the health system."
Waid says the council's key responsibility is to maintain the essential services which keep communities running.
"We are making preparations for the possibility of staff needing to work from home, and we are looking at how we can ramp up efforts to further limit social contact if required. This graduated approach will be monitored by the Pandemic Response Team based on the MoH's most up-to-date advice."
In the meantime it is encouraged where possible, to conduct Council business via phone (0800 111 323), on the website (www.southtaranaki.com) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check the Ministry of Health website for the latest information: www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
Basic Hygiene Measures:
Hand hygiene – wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or cleanse with hand sanitiser.
Stay at home if you feel unwell.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and then perform hand hygiene.
Clean surfaces regularly.
Physical distancing – eliminate physical contact such as handshakes and try to stay at least a metre away from other people where possible.
■ For Covid-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (free) on 0800 358 5453. For other non-health related support call 0800 779 997.