A call centre has been launched to coordinate requests for assistance during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The call centre opened yesterday to help people in urgent need and will operate out of the Whanganui District Council building where the health sector-led Emergency Operations Centre is looking to move its base to as the multi-agency response to coronavirus develops.

"People may want to know how they can support others, or they may need food or other supplies delivered. This is a difficult time and we know some extra assistance will be needed in our Whanganui community," Safer Whanganui manager Lauren Tamehana said.

Tamehana advised people to ask whānau and friends whether they need help, call a social agency or call the council welfare team.
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"Please check in with your neighbours, while always maintaining social distancing – you might be able to phone, message online, or just call out over the fence," Tamehana said.

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"We'll have members of our team on the phones who will ask you a few questions to understand your needs. If we can't help you immediately, we'll get back to you."

The EOC is urging people not to travel outside of the region as one of our primary defences against Covid-19 is strict adherence to remaining within the confines of our communities.

Meanwhile, the Whanganui District Council chief executive Kym Fell said his team was putting in significant hours and co-ordinating with others behind the scenes to support the Whanganui community.

"Our early preparation has meant that all essential services are now operating according to plan," Fell said.

"We have many staff working remotely to ensure essential services such as wastewater and potable water remain constant and compliant."

Fell said the council was working closely with the police to ensure the CBD remained secure and that people were complying with all lockdown conditions.

"I'm incredibly proud of the way my staff have stepped up during such unprecedented circumstances," Fell said.

People needing assistance during the Covid-19 lockdown can phone the call centre on 349 0001.

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It will be staffed from 8am until 5pm with all calls going to an after-hours number beyond that.

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