Media advisory #10 – Welfare call centre key part of coronavirus response

30 March 2020

Facebook Be kind iconAs well as people’s health, a key focus of the Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) response to the coronavirus outbreak is the general welfare of the community.

The EOC understands that there is anxiety out in the community and, as we go through the lockdown period and stay safe in our bubbles, people will need help and reassurance.

So a call centre has been set up to co-ordinate the response for those in need. It will operate between 8am and 5pm from today, Monday, 30 March, 2020. The call centre number is 06 349 0001.

The EOC asks that people keep a check on friends, family and neighbours, observing social distancing and using the phone, online messaging, or just chatting over the fence from a safe two-metre distance.

If people need support, they should ask whānau or friends whether they can help, or contact a social agency if they are linked to one. Otherwise they can call the welfare team on 06 349 0001.

Whanganui EOC is urging people not to travel outside of the region as one of our primary defences against Covid-19 is strict adherence to remaining within the confines of our communities.

This week, the EOC will be looking to move its base from Whanganui Hospital to the Whanganui District Council building, as the multi-sector response to coronavirus develops.

Key health information
▪ A total of three cases of coronavirus COVID-19 are confirmed in the Whanganui region as at 1pm on Monday, 30 March 2020. These three people are self-isolating in one house in the Ruapehu District, and do not need hospitalisation.
▪ In confirmed cases of COVID-19, Public Health staff will be in daily contact with those affected, and contact tracing will be undertaken.
▪ We ask people to stay home, and to look after themselves, and the people they care most for. By staying home, they can help slow the spread of the virus and break the chain.
▪ We can slow the spread if we all work together. Physical separation of two metres is of the utmost importance outside your bubble, but that does not mean social separation, so keep in touch by other means.
▪ Remember to regularly wash your hands and dry them well.
▪ And always cough and sneeze into your elbow.
▪ Reminder – The only hospital visiting allowed is one visitor for patients: At end stage of life, in the Critical Care Unit, in the Maternity Unit, and in the Children’s Ward. All visitors must be part of the patient’s bubble.
▪ Whanganui hospital is open 24/7 for critical cases and those patients who need urgent care.
▪ In the Waimarino region there will be a reduced maternity service commencing Monday, 30 March, 2020, as there is only one midwife available. This means all women due to give birth in the next four weeks will be advised to do so in Whanganui Hospital.
▪ Pregnant women can still have a support person from their bubble during labour and birth, and can hold their new-born skin to skin and share a room with their baby. However, they must wash hands and dry them thoroughly before and after touching baby. Seeing a midwife for routine and urgent visits is still necessary throughout lockdown. The midwife will do as much consultation as they can over the phone or via video conferencing, and the number of face-to-face visits may be reduced. Please talk to your midwife if you have any queries.


For more information

  • To keep up to date with local information about important health services in the Whanganui Region visit WDHB's Facebook page or

  • Te Ranga Tupua Collective Iwi Response – phone 0800 202 004 for help, advice and support for whānau in the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, Otaihape and South Taranaki Region

  • For national information visit  or


If you are unwell:

  • Phone the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

  • If you are going to your general practice (GP) - phone first.

  • If you are so unwell you need to come to the hospital ED – please phone first.

Read our other media releases on the COVID-19 response here  

Civil Defence joins Whanganui’s emergency response to coronavirus 

29 March 2020


The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) handling the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak for the Whanganui District Health Board region has been expanded today, Sunday, 29 March 2020.


The original EOC, comprising health staff, has been joined by a contingent from Whanganui Civil Defence who will work in partnership with the health-led EOC.


The EOC is co-ordinating the response in the Whanganui DHB region which includes significant parts of the Rangitikei and Ruapehu territorial authorities.


Update on Waimarino maternity services


In the Waimarino region there will be a reduced maternity service commencing Monday, 30 March, 2020, as there is only one midwife available. This means all women due to give birth in the next four weeks will be advised to do so in Whanganui Hospital.


Whanganui region has three confirmed cases of COVID-19


28 March 2020


The Ministry of Health announced at 1.00pm today that three people in the Whanganui Region are confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

The three confirmed cases are all in the Ruapehu District and are New Zealanders who flew back to New Zealand from overseas and began their self-isolation. They have been fully compliant with quarantine requirements and do not need to be in hospital.


Whanganui District Health Board Chief Executive Russell Simpson says the DHB, iwi, the health sector and the wider community have plans in place for dealing with confirmed cases.


“We have trained people and systems in place to manage cases, prevent spread and protect the health of our region.”


Public Health staff have been in daily contact with the three people who are all in one house. Staff are providing daily welfare checks with the three people. They are also receiving drop-offs of food and essential supplies.


“I want to reiterate to the community how vitally important it is that people stay home, within their own bubble, so we can contain COVID-19.


“We also remind people to phone, or use the internet, to contact loved-ones, especially those who are vulnerable in our community,” Mr Simpson says.


Full media release.

Whanganui’s essential health services remain in place despite national lockdown

23 March 2020


As New Zealand enters a four-week lockdown, Whanganui District Health Board is reassuring the community that essential health services will be maintained.


In response to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the lockdown, moving the country to alert level 4.


Schools, childcare centres and universities will be closed from March 24; all non-essential businesses and services will likely shut down; and people should stay home wherever possible.


However, Whanganui Hospital – while adopting a restricted access policy – will still be treating acute cases and delivering essential services.


Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Russell Simpson said the community should be reassured that health services were still functioning well and that there had so far been no cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in the region.


He said the DHB would be in regular communication with the community, both through traditional media and social media.


A community-based assessment centre (CBAC) for possible coronavirus COVID-19 cases has opened in the grounds of Whanganui Hospital. The assessment centre is to the right of the hospital’s main public carpark as people drive in. The service is free and is open from 8am to 9pm, seven days a week.


People who have returned from overseas or have been in close contact with someone who has returned from overseas, or who are feeling unwell, have the symptoms of high temperature, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, or are concerned they may have been exposed to COVID-19, can go to the assessment centre.


There they will be assessed and, if necessary, a swab will be taken for testing.


Other assessment centres have opened at Gonville Health and Te Oranganui to serve their local communities.


Whanganui’s Emergency Operations Centre, based at the hospital, continues to monitor the situation and co-ordinate the response from the health sector.


EOC Incident Controller Louise Allsopp said: "Our advice to everyone is look after yourself, look out for each other and be mindful of older people living alone.


“Take time to talk to children and to check in on your neighbours before the full lockdown commences at midnight on Wednesday, March 25, especially those who you know are living by themselves,” she said.


“And then keep up the support via non-physical contact once the lockdown is in place and check that they have everything they need."


For more information visit the Ministry of Health COVID-19 website or 


Partners in care hui with emergency operations centre

Friday 20 March 


On Thursday, 19 March, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Whanganui District Health Board welcomed ‘partners in care’ from throughout the region to support the collaborative approach to managing the effects of coronavirus COVID-19 locally.


partners in care EOC hui 19 March

The partners in care group talking with the EOC

Representatives from councils and civil defence emergency management, senior DHB staff, Corrections, St John, Police and Spotless cleaning and catering services talked with the EOC about the response for the Whanganui rohe.


More organisations will be bought into the EOC ‘partners in care’ group to advise and support the health sector’s response.


EOC controller Louise Allsopp welcomed the group and thanked them for the work done in their communities so far in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“It’s up to us as a collective to face what’s happening in Whanganui and what this is going to look like for us. At the moment we believe it’s not an ‘if’, it’s a ‘when’ in terms of a local case.


“We have been working really hard to plan for this and it will need a community effort.”


Ms Allsopp thanked the Whanganui community for ongoing good hygiene practices, self-isolation after travel and for caring for each other.


“Whanganui has a great and caring community and in a time of uncertainty we are looking after each other and working together on the response across different social services, iwi and community agencies and leaders.”