Ready to deal with virus


A notice about coronavirus on the door of an Ashburton business.
A notice about coronavirus on the door of an Ashburton business.
Ashburton mayor Neil Brown says the district’s businesses could soon feel the impact of coronavirus as supply chains that rely on imported product from China are disrupted.

He said the Ashburton District Council was keeping a watching brief on the economic and health impacts of the disease, which is now widespread outside mainland China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that the Government had extended the travel ban on foreigners arriving from China and Iran by another week, until March 10, while those arriving from northern Italy or South Korea are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Worldwide there have been more than 90,000 confirmed cases, with more than 3000 deaths.

Mr Brown said he and other Canterbury mayors had been briefed by the Canterbury District Health Board, who was ready and able to deal with any cases of COVID-19.

The message was keep calm, and carry on, he said.

Mr Brown said he had not heard from Mid Canterbury businesses who were struggling because of the virus, either through staff not able to return to the country, or product delayed or unable to be exported. Some medicines were also made in China.

Government has said it will help businesses that are impacted.

Mr Brown was unsure if the virus would impact those travelling to the Sister Cities conference in Ashburton at the end of April. Invitations had been sent to people in China, where Ashburton and other New Zealand towns maintained sister city relationships.

Mid Canterbury schools are also keeping their school communities up to date with coronavirus precautions.

District health board chief executive David Meates said Christchurch Hospital had 11 negative pressure rooms to care for people with infectious diseases.

He said that for most people COVID-19 was a mild illness and people could safely be cared for at home. Those who needed hospital care were generally older and had other health problems.

It was important to keep things in perspective, he said. Christchurch Hospital admitted an additional 50 people a day during the peak of winter flu season; there had been just one isolated case of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Symptoms include a cough, fever and breathing difficulties. The dedicated Healthline number is 0800 358 5453.

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