Local doctors launch plan


Medical practices and health professionals in Mid Canterbury have joined forces in the fight to prevent the community spread of Covid-19.

Since the outbreak began, they have swabbed at least 10 people for the coronavirus, none were positive, and consulted many more concerned they might have the disease.

People needed to practise social distancing and remain vigilant, said Three Rivers GP Sarah Clarke. "No positives does not mean we have no cases."

She said people needed to be kind, watch out for the vulnerable and elderly, and follow trusted information sources, like the Ministry of Health.

Medical centre staff were wearing personal protective equipment and conducting assessments in carparks if people were showing Covid-19 symptoms, which include fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath.

A joint press release from the Ashburton Covid-19 team advises people to stay up to date with local information, and phone ahead before going to any medical centre.

"If you arrive without an appointment then you will likely be asked to go to your car and to phone in, as we need to triage every person so we can offer the best treatment without exposing people unnecessarily to one another in our clinics and waiting rooms.

"You will speak with a healthcare worker who can discuss your concern and arrange the best management."

People with Covid-19 questions needed to ring the dedicated health line 0800 358 5453 and be prepared to wait. Those feeling very ill could ring their usual GP. The campaign against Covid-19 emphasises social distancing and keeping yourself safe.

Prescriptions can be faxed to pharmacies and and in some circumstances may be delivered, people feeling unwell should stay at home and physical contact with non-household members should be minimised. ‘‘Don’t shake hands and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use sterilising hand gel as often as you can and then definitely if you touch something you are worried about.’’

Flu vaccinations will be early this year for vulnerable people and GPs will contact those eligible directly. Others will be vaccinated after the vulnerable. Don’t phone in to ask about the flu vaccine, lines are busy dealing with Covid-19 inquiries.

Dr Clarke said frontline staff were meeting regularly, collaborating and behaving like a big healthcare family. Panic buying was not necessary. ‘‘Supply lines are intact and you only need what you would for two weeks in case you have to isolate. Groceries can be delivered.’’

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