Covid-19: Whangārei Hospital closes visitor service after cases rise

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A spike in patients testing positive for Covid-19 has led Whangārei Hospital to step up infection control measures.

Ward 1, an orthopedic ward, is temporarily closed to visitors after an unknown number of patients tested positive for the virus.

Acting district manager Tracey Schiebli said an outbreak management plan was launched as soon as there was an increase in the number of patients testing positive on the ward.

The plan included infection prevention control measures, closing visitor service and informing patients of what was happening.

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According to the hospital’s website, Ward One is a 30-bed orthopedic ward, which cares for elective and acute orthopedic and polytrauma patients.

Schiebli said the Covid-19 infection may have been brought in by visitors or staff who had no symptoms.

Whangārei Hospital has closed the first visitor ward after patients tested positive for Covid-19.  (File photo)

SUNGMI KIM / Stuff

Whangārei Hospital has closed the first visitor ward after patients tested positive for Covid-19. (File photo)

“This is just one of the challenges we face as a country and a health service in living with Covid-19,” she said.

“It is therefore essential that all staff, visitors and support people continue to wear masks appropriately while in hospital, to protect patients and staff.”

The hospital has been under extreme stress for weeks as flu and Covid-19 hit, with patients being treated in corridors and tents being used as waiting rooms.

Schiebli said there was also significant community spread of Covid-19 in Northland, with more than 200 new cases reported daily this week, including 280 new cases on Thursday.

Whangārei Hospital has remained busy during the pandemic, with patients being treated in hallways and tents used as waiting rooms.  (File photo)

Denise Piper / Stuff

Whangārei Hospital has remained busy during the pandemic, with patients being treated in hallways and tents used as waiting rooms. (File photo)

There were 1,596 active cases in Northland on Thursday, including 14 cases in hospital.

Schiebli said the virus remains a problem in the community and people need to remain vigilant.

“Wear masks, stay two meters away from people you don’t know, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you’re sick, get tested and get your full round of Covid-19 vaccinations.” , she said.

“While most healthy, vaccinated people will have milder disease, Covid-19 is potentially more dangerous for those who are sick and already hospitalized.”

People are asked not to visit a Northland hospital if they feel unwell and all visitors must wear a mask throughout their visit.

The visitor policy will be revised on July 18.

The government announced on Thursday that it would make masks and RAT tests available free of charge to anyone who wants them, in response to the rising number of cases.

But the country would remain at the orange light, said Covid-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall.

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