Wellington nurse tests positive for Covid-19

A nurse at Wellington Regional Hospital has tested positive for Covid-19.

Capital and Coast District Health Board chief executive Fionnagh Dougan said the nurse was involved in the care of patients with the coronavirus and this week tested positive for Covid-19.

"They last worked on Monday, April 6, at which time they felt well, and have not worked since experiencing symptoms," Dougan said.

"Regional Public Health is now working with them to trace any community contacts, and colleagues they have been in direct contact with have been offered testing and support.

"No patients have been exposed, and everyone our nurse is likely to have come into contact with is well."

Dougan said it was not yet known how Covid-19 was contracted in this case.

"Our nurse was using full personal protective equipment [PPE] and had been through our PPE training programme.

"We are undertaking a thorough investigation to determine how this possible hospital transmission occurred.

"We remain in close communication with our nurse, and are providing every ongoing support that we can."

One of the nine people in New Zealand to die of Covid-19 did so at Wellington Regional Hospital.

Chrisanthos (Christo) Tzanoudakis (87) was the father of the groom at the Bluff wedding which has spawned the biggest cluster of cases in the country alongside Marist College in Auckland.

On Tuesday the Ministry of Health said 107 healthcare workers had been infected with Covid-19.

Of those 56 were infected outside of work including links to travel, and 46 were either infected by a colleague who contracted it outside work, or infected through exposure to a sick patient or rest home resident.

Last week two nurses were confirmed positive with Covid-19 at Waikato Hospital.

They alleged through the New Zealand Nurses Organisation that they were told to take off PPE by senior staff, while dealing with a patient with respiratory symptoms.

It's understood since then a third nurse tested positive with the coronavirus at Waikato Hospital.

After the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists called for reporting of Covid-19 cases among healthcare professionals, the Ministry of Health began announcing numbers.

Yesterday there was a total of 1401 confirmed cases in New Zealand, with more than half of those now recovered.

Twelve people remained in hospital, two in critical condition, and 15 new cases were confirmed.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere (director) Kerri Nuku said their thoughts were with the nurse.

"We've got a seriously very nervous workforce," she said.

Heading into the Covid-19 outbreak there were concerns about system fragility and a "fear of the unknown".

"Now we're at the situation where we've got a nurse that's tested positive, I think those anxieties have become real, and we're still hearing concerns about the lack of PPE gear that is being made available to nurses on the floor."

She said the NZNO was looking at legislation to see what obligations employers had to staff at risk of catching the virus.

A survey by the Nurses Society of New Zealand found a high level of concern by nurses for their personal health and safety amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The survey collected data from a 16-point questionnaire done by 500 registered nurses.

It showed 77.4% reported that they currently have reasonable access to PPE in their workplace, but 19.6% reported they did not.

One third of respondents were dissatisfied with the current Ministry of Health PPE guidelines for their setting, as well as the local PPE policies and practices in their workplace, but overall there was a high level of satisfaction with the response to Covid-19.

Only 3.8% of those surveyed were "not at all" concerned about their personal health and safety.

"The MoH PPE guidelines have a sound basis but we have always suggested to our membership that they be used as the minimum and that professional judgment should be exercised on a case-by-case or situational basis by nurses, nurse managers and other clinicians and, in some situations, this should mean employing additional or higher-level risk mitigation measures more widely," society director David Wills said.

The Nurses Society of New Zealand represents about 10 per cent of nurses nationwide.

Add a Comment