Whanganui DHB and hospital at Alert Level 4 #3


20 August 2021


Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Russell Simpson is backing today’s Cabinet decision to extend the Alert Level 4 lockdown to midnight on Tuesday.


“This is the right call -- the Delta strain is highly contagious, highly transmissible and is a serious threat to all of us,” he said.


“It is too early in this outbreak to relax and lower the alert levels.


“Now is the time for us all in the Whanganui rohe to be extra careful, to stay home, stay safe in our bubbles, and to look after ourselves and our whānau.”


Simpson called on the community to stick to the Alert Level 4 rules.


“Please wear masks and maintain physical distancing when outside. This is the way for us to get on top of the outbreak and get out of Alert Level 4 and back to normal life.”


He also expressed concern that some people may be flouting the lockdown rules.


“There seem to be a large number of cars on the road, and this level of activity is a worry. There certainly appear to be more people out than during the last lockdown.”


Simpson said unnecessary travel put the community at risk, and the rules were clear.


People should stay at home unless they are visiting essential services such as supermarkets, dairies, petrol station, pharmacies and medical services, are travelling as essential workers, or are out exercising in their neighbourhoods.


His comments were supported by Whanganui police area commander Inspector Nigel Allan.


“We seemed to have more people out on the street than I would expect considering we are at Alert Level 4 and the previous 48-hour exemption to travel home has now expired” said Inspector Allan.


“It is crucial that people stick to the rules and avoid all non-essential travel to reduce the chances of COVID-19 impacting our community.


“Police will continue to closely monitor compliance to support our communities to be safe. People will need a very good reason to be out and about.”


Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing has been stepped up, with approximately 210 people tested on Thursday 19 August.


“This high demand puts a lot of strain on health staff,” said Simpson.


“We are asking that people only come for a test if they are a contact of a positive case; have visited one of the locations of interest at the specific dates and times; or have cold or flu symptoms.


“It is imperative we prioritise testing for these groups.”


He said it was inevitable that there would be wait times for those wanting to get tested, and he called for people to be patient and treat the testing staff with respect.


“All essential workers across health, emergency services, supermarkets, pharmacies and council are working to ensure we maintain vital infrastructure and services for our community, so please be supportive.”


Testing at the community-based assessment centre (CBAC) at Whanganui Hospital is open from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.


And testing will also be available at Living Waters Medical in Rakau Road, Castlecliff, from Monday, with a CBAC operating there from 8.30am to 4.30pm.


COVID-19 testing is available in Marton, Bulls, Taihape and Ruapehu through local GP clinics and health centres. People who wish to be tested should contact the practices to organise appointments.


Health services

  • COVID-19 vaccination clinics are all in operation using strict Alert Level 4 protocols including physical distancing and the wearing of face masks.


  • Whanganui Hospital is still open 24/7 for urgent cases and anyone with urgent medical needs should head to the emergency department.


  • Those with other health needs should first contact their GP or health centre or call Healthline on 0800 611 116.


  • The wearing of face masks is now compulsory within the hospital for staff and visitors.


  • At Alert Level 4, visitors are only allowed at the hospital for patients at end stage of life, in the Critical Care Unit, Maternity Unit and one parent for children in the Children’s Ward.


  • Whanganui DHB services in rural centres continue for urgent care within the community, with other services being rescheduled or provided by telehealth as needed. If people have concerns about their appointment, they should contact their local health centre.


Key messages

  • Stay calm, stay in your bubble, be kind and take care of yourself and your whānau.
  • If you are unwell, please stay home. Do not go to work even if an essential worker and do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.


COVID-19 symptoms include: 

  • a new or worsening cough 
  • a fever of at least 38°C 
  • shortness of breath 
  • sore throat 
  • sneezing and runny nose  
  • temporary loss of smell
  • muscle cramps.  


Keep track of where you’ve been

Download the NZ COVID Tracer app and scan QR code poster everywhere you go. This will help trace people's movements and track down community cases.


Any future cases need to be quickly identified, and their contacts isolated and tested, to avoid the virus spreading in our communities.


Face coverings 

Everyone must wear a face covering on all public transport and on domestic flights, at bus terminals and in taxis. In addition, people must wear a mask when going out to the supermarket, dairy, pharmacy, service station etc, and staff at those essential services will wear masks.


It is also strongly encouraged to wear face masks in any situation where physical distancing is not possible or in closely-confined spaces.


Practice good hygiene

Wash your hands with soap. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Clean surfaces.