Calls to Protect the Pacific as COVID19 is confirmed in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health have reported that New Zealand is one of 77 countries and territories to report (4) confirmed cases of COVID-19. Keeping individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy in the current global environment requires a team effort and with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low. New Zealand is providing help to Pacific countries to help them get ready for the coronavirus threat.

 

 

There have now been four confirmed cases of the disease called COVID-19 in New Zealand there are calls to individuals, families and our communities to be mindful of how their actions can affect others.

 

It’s important to remember how susceptible Pacific Island nations are to infectious diseases, especially following tragedy of the measles epidemic that claimed multiple lives in Samoa.

 

It isn’t even a question how vulnerable Pacific Island Nations would be to coronavirus.

 

The new coronavirus disease COVID-19 (sometimes called novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV) is part of a large and diverse family of viruses which cause illnesses such as the common cold. The most recent diseases caused by coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

 

New Zealand has obligations to citizens living in realm nations- the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, and will be sending teams to the Realm countries, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau to support their preparedness.

 

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said it was vital that New Zealand was working hard in partnership with its neighbours to ensure the region was safe and as prepared as could be for the virus.

 

New Zealand is jointly funding the World Health Organisation's Pacific regional coronavirus response plan, in partnership with Australia, in response to requests for assistance.

 

The New Zealand government has contracted the Institute of Environmental Science and Research to receive samples of potential Covid-19 cases for testing from Pacific Island countries which include Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and other Pacific countries free of charge.

 

Currently four people are in isolation in Fiji and are being tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus- with one suspected case in Tonga.

 

Inaugural Associate Dean Pacific at the University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Dr Colin Tukuitonga explained why NZ has an obligation to protect Pacific Island nations https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/2020/03/06/1068597/pacific-nations-must-be-protected-from-covid-19 but also advises of the risk COVID-19 poses to Pacific communities here in New Zealand.

 

“Pacific communities are among groups most at risk from COVID-19 here in New Zealand because, for instance, there is a higher prevalence of diabetes as a co-morbidity, which means the virus would be co-occurring with another health issue. Also, these communities often have poorer access to health care.”

 

So it is important to keep yourself, your loved ones and your communities safe by practicing good hygiene.

 

Here are some recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

 

• Wash your hands thoroughly

 

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

 

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

 

• Avoid eating shared or communal food

 

• Avoid shaking hands, kissing cheeks

 

• Stay home when you are sick.

 

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. OR sneeze into your elbow.

 

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

 

However it’s mostly important not to panic. While the outbreak is a serious public health concern, the majority of those who contract the coronavirus do not become seriously ill, and only a small percentage require intensive care.

 

Family doctors are urging people who think they might have the virus to call ahead before turning up for care, to minimise the risk of giving it to staff and other patients.

 

For more detailed information visit the Ministry of Health website: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus.


If visiting the homelands be aware:

 

Pacific island countries are introducing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the Pacific. All travellers to the Pacific should check the entry requirements for their destinations before travelling.

 

Samoa has reduced the frequency of international flights from New Zealand to Samoa. Contact your airline, travel agent, accommodation provider and travel insurance provider to confirm your travel and related arrangements. Airlines and other travel providers will have the most up-to-date information about flight availability.

 

Travellers entering Samoa from or transiting through New Zealand are required to undergo a medical examination by a Registered Medical Practitioner within three days before arrival. This medical clearance report will be required at check-in prior to the issuing of a boarding pass.

 

For more information visit: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/news/covid-19-coronavirus

 

06/03/20