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Tight new restrictions are now in force in southern hospitals, and visitors are banned in all but the most grievous circumstances.
The Southern District Health Board said yesterday visitors would not be allowed into Dunedin, Southland and Lakes District Hospitals except on compassionate grounds.
‘‘Visitors allowed on compassionate grounds are limited to those residing in the patient’s household,’’ a spokeswoman said.
‘‘We are making exceptions to the household rule for those patients who live alone and have limited access to alternative support networks.’’
Wakari already had a policy of no visitors in place for the foreseeable future, although provisions were being made for patients to be able to communicate with friends or family via telephone or the internet.
All visitors allowed in on compassionate grounds must sign a register in case their details are later needed for contact tracing; no-one who is in self-isolation is allowed to visit a hospital.
In maternity wards, one nominated support person is allowed in, an SDHB statement said.
In low-risk wards, one visitor at a time will be permitted, only within formal visiting hours.
However, given the Level 4 Covid-19 status, the SDHB said any visits should only be essential.
Under Level 4 the SDHB had already cancelled all elective surgery and outpatient appointments.
It has also cancelled all non-essential oral health services for children.
Adults needing essential dental work can be seen in Dunedin at the School of Dentistry and in Invercargill at Southland Hospital, but must first call ahead to have their need assessed.
‘‘Walk-ins are not accepted,’’ a spokeswoman said.
‘‘An indication of what constitutes essential relates to uncontrolled facial swelling, uncontrollable bleeding, facial trauma, and pain that can’t be managed by pain killers.’’
Adults in the southern district with their own private dentist were asked to contact them in the first instance as usual.
The SDHB also moved to reassure expectant parents that maternity wards remained open, although preferably for urgent cases only.
‘‘Well women without pregnancy complications and without Covid-19 exposure are encouraged to receive their maternity care out of hospital, and talk to their midwife about birthing at home or in a primary maternity facility,’’ a spokeswoman said.
‘‘Women who need urgent maternity care and have been exposed to Covid-19, or have suspected/confirmed Covid-19, will receive care in separate areas from the rest of the maternity ward.’’
Midwives, whose job requires movement through the community, were being provided with personal protective equipment and asked to assess visiting requirements on a case-by-case basis.