A temporary no-visitors policy has been introduced across all Taranaki District Health Board facilities as the fight against Covid 19 continues.
The temporary measure has been taken to ensure the safety of patients and staff by minimising avoidable contact and the potential for spread of the virus.
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There are a few exceptions to the rule, with one parent or guardian allowed in the Neonatal Unit, known as NNU and Ward 2B which is a childrens ward.
One significant other or support person is also allowed to accompany a patient in the labour and maternity wards, and a terminal patient receiving end-of-life care can also be supported by one nominated person.
Decisions on if exceptional circumstances apply in any case will be at the discretion of the clinical nurse manager or lead clinician.
Taranaki DHB chief operating officer Gillian Campbell says any visitors who are allowed in these cases will still be carefully screened.
"In all exceptions where a visitor is allowed to access any TDHB facility, appropriate screening will take place before they are allowed to enter the care environment to ensure
they are well, have clean hands and are using appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment."
She says the measure, as with all current Covid-19 related measures being taken by the health board, is to ensure safety of staff and patients at this time.
"We are going through an extraordinary situation where we must examine our tikanga to enable us to care for those people who are in hospital in the best possible way. To this end, our new tikanga for visiting is designed to protect and care for those tūroro and tāngata whaiora who are in hospital. These tikanga are based on tiaki, manaaki and aroha. I ask that all whānau help us to protect and care for all who are in our care."
People with any questions of queries about this new temporary policy, or with any other queries about the virus, can contact the Taranaki District Health Board on its new dedicated email address for Covid 19: TDHBCovid.Enquiries@tdhb.org.nz.
Healthline's COVID-19 line (0800 358 5453) should be used only by people with Covid-19 symptoms.
The Taranaki District Health Board has also announced there are now four testing locations in Taranaki.
They are located in Waitara, New Plymouth, Hawera and Opunake.
People should only go to them if referred by Healthline, their GP or the Medical Officer of Health.
Testing will not be performed on people who do not meet the case definition.
At this point in Taranaki, all confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been travel related or belong to families of people who have recently returned from overseas.
Taranaki DHB's medical officer of health, Dr Jonathan Jarman, says people can expect the number of cases to go up for the next week or so before the impact of New Zealand's strict self isolation rules have an impact.
At this time, it is normal for people to feel distressed, and it is important people seek help if they feel they aren't coping. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, people can call or text 1737. This service is free, available 24/7 and gives you the chance to talk with a trained counsellor for free.