Testing required for years: SDHB

A health worker conducts a Covid-19 test. Photo: RNZ
A health worker conducts a Covid-19 test. Photo: RNZ
The Southern District Health Board expects to need to co-ordinate Covid-19 testing for about two years at least.

Staff were now planning for the health board to provide "business as normal" care, as well coping with the pandemic, SDHB strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro told a board meeting on Tuesday.

In the early stages of the pandemic, when Ministry of Health advice and recommended procedures regularly changed, forward planning was difficult.

"What we want to achieve now is a robust plan for the next 12-18 months which recognises we will have responsibility for the ports and that there will be requirements constantly, particularly for the likes of Queenstown where there are significant in and out flows from the North Island," she said.

Primary care had considerable involvement in testing, which was a significant revenue stream for it, and the DHB had to balance that with public health obligations, Ms Gestro said.

Further Covid-19 planning work was outlined by SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming in his report to the board.

Those included weekly meetings with aged-care providers and staff training — 20 public health nurses were preparing for management and monitoring roles.

The DHB was also trying to balance the demand of Covid-19 work on its public health nursing service and its regular work to provide school and preschool health services.

"There is the requirement to provide surge capacity to the local public health unit in the event of an outbreak," Mr Fleming said.

"The total full-time equivalents for this component of the service across the whole district is 18.6, and following the community outbreak in Auckland it has been identified that 20 FTE of clinical staff would be required as a minimum to case manage and monitor 24 cases per day."

Staff were continuing Covid-19 training while management considered further planning and staff training options.

Meanwhile, WellSouth will today run a pop-up Covid-19 testing clinic in Queenstown.

Free tests will be available for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms and for all hospitality workers, whether they have symptoms or not.

“While we are currently free of Covid-19 in our region, we must remain vigilant to keep it that way," SDHB medical officer of health Michael Butchard said.

"This testing station is part of the plan to pick up any outbreaks early, which will help keep our communities safe.”

Hotel and restaurant staff, and tourism, airport and transport workers were encouraged to get a test, whether or not they had symptoms, Dr Butchard said.

“Queenstown-Lakes is a great place for school holidays and since people are here from all over New Zealand, it’s a good place to do Covid-19 testing as well.”

The clinic will run on the Village Green from 8am to 8pm.



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