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The "phenomenal" work done by southern primary health professionals supporting New Zealand’s Covid-19 response should be recognised, WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs says.
New Zealand marked 100 days without a case of community transmission of Covid-19 , and Mr Swanson-Dobbs noted the 195 staff rostered across southern community-based assessment centres and pop-ups, and the more than 20,000 tests administered in the South since the start of the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The southern primary health sector would be marking the milestone New Zealand reached yesterday along with the rest of the community.
"We are still in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and we’ve still got to be vigilant and do what we need to do," he said.
"But it is possible to have small celebrations along the way, and 100 days is pretty good."
While the country celebrated the work of Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield, Mr Swanson-Dobbs said the South had its own unsung heroes who played important roles.
WellSouth medical director Stephen Graham, Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Nigel Millar and Southern District Health Board officer of health Susan Jack, who led the technical advisory group for the Southern region, should not be overlooked.
"It was essential to use the collective wisdom of those three clinical leaders and unsung heroes ... to help guide the region down here," Mr Swanson-Dobbs said.
He praised the 1076 people in Queenstown and 35 in Milford who showed up for a test last week. All returned negative.
While New Zealand’s 23 active cases of Covid-19 remained in managed isolation facilities, and its number of confirmed cases remained at 1219, he echoed Dr Bloomfield’s guidance against complacency.
Dr Bloomfield yesterday thanked everyone who had been tested and those doing the testing for playing their part in ensuring communities did not have undetected cases of Covid-19, but he said everyone still had a role to play.
"We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand," he said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said a resurgence plan is ready to roll out if there is a surge in cases.
Last week, Health Minister Chris Hipkins warned if the country was ever to return to Covid-19 Alert Level 2, New Zealanders would be encouraged to wear masks when they could not physically distance, such as on public transport.