Friday, 07 August 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

In excess of 200 Covid-19 tests already carried out on the Coromandel

The Waikato District Health Board will not release the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the Coromandel Peninsula, siting privacy as the reason.

However, a DHB spokesperson told The Informer last Sunday that a low number of cases have been confirmed in the Thames-Coromandel District, all of which were linked to overseas travel.

The Ministry of Health releases the number of confirmed and probable cases across the country on a daily basis, but only by District Health Board area. For large regions like the Waikato, it means residents have no specific information for their particular district. With the absence of official information, speculation is rife on social media.

The DHB said it was aware that some announcements had been made locally, including a doctor at the Community Based Testing Centre (CBTC) at Te Korowai in Thames who late last week said 10 people tested at the facility had returned positive results. We had asked the spokesperson if the Health Board can release more specific figures in order to ensure accurate and complete information was being given to Coromandel residents. “The Waikato DHB does not currently provide a breakdown for the location of individual cases or by local area,” the spokesperson responded. “This is because we have a duty to uphold patient privacy which includes reporting on suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.”

It remains unclear how an overall figure for the Coromandel would identify individuals or breach privacy.

The reporting policy only broadens in the event a cluster - which is defined as 10 or more linked cases - being identified. “If there is a cluster of confirmed cases, this will be listed on the Ministry of Health website,” we were told. “The Waikato DHB also provides statements on any local clusters and the actions taken in response.”

Examples of clusters include a wedding in Bluff that as of last Sunday had 58 linked cases and a St Patrick’s Day event at a pub in Matamata which has resulted in 56 people being infected.

No firm number could be provided for the total number of Covid-19 tests completed across the Thames-Coromandel District, with the Health Board only saying it was in excess of 200. The vast majority of those were carried out at the CBTC in Thames where, as of Saturday last week, a total of 202 tests had been done. A designated testing site has been in operation at the Mercury Bay Medical Centre in Whitianga since 1 April, while another CBTC was due to open in Whangamata on Monday this week.

According to the Waikato DHB, the Thames-Coromandel District was in a good position to meet current and future demand for medical care. “The population of the Coromandel tends to grow significantly at certain times of the year and this is something the local medical facilities are experienced in working with, although we acknowledge this is clearly not a typical time to see such an increase,” the Health Board spokesperson said. “We have not seen an increased demand on our hospital services. Thames Hospital is receiving around half the usual number of presentations to its Emergency Department due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The hospital is well prepared to safely accommodate Covid-19 patients if required, as are all the Waikato DHB’s rural hospitals.

“If there is a need for critical care or patient numbers grow beyond local capacity, they would be transferred to Waikato Hospital.”

On Sunday last week, New Zealand had a total of 1,039 confirmed and probable cases of the virus. By DHB, Waikato had the second highest number with 146.

Covid-19 testing is now available to anyone experiencing acute respiratory symptoms associated with the virus. However, you must call ahead to confirm your eligibility. Phone Mercury Bay Medical Centre on (07) 866 5911. For further advice call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or visit www.covid19.govt.nz.

Pictured: A designated Covid-19 testing site has been in operation at Mercury Bay Medical Centre in Whitianga since 1 April.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.