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In a statement this afternoon, chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar said patients presenting at ED and other departments for treatment would notice tighter screening procedures now that the region has moved to Level 2.
“We will be operating under a higher level of suspicion, so people will be asked questions to ascertain whether they are at higher risk of having Covid-19.
''Those who are assessed as higher risk will be tested for Covid-19 and treated separately from other patients.''
Patients who present with respiratory illness, but are unlikely to have Covid-19, will also be tested as part of ongoing surveillance testing and treated in the usual manner.
Staff will maintain social distancing where possible and use PPE where appropriate.
“While Southern’s Technical Advisory Group has today advised that visiting hours will remain unchanged at this stage, it is an evolving situation and Southern DHB will advise the public if restrictions are necessary in future.
“As much as possible, all hospital services are running as normal. If we need to change an appointment or a scheduled procedure, the patient concerned will be contacted directly.''
Aged care facilities have gone into lockdown. Palliative care services (Hospice Southland and Otago Community Hospice) are continuing to offer full services.
Dr Millar said Southland Hospital was reporting many departments were fielding phone calls today from members of the public asking for health advice.