Auckland, March 31, 2020
The government has proper systems in place to contain the spread of Covid-19, Health Minister Dr David Clark told the Epidemic Response Committee of Parliament at its first meeting today.
Chaired by Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridge, the Committee, established by Parliament, comprises MPs from Labour, National, New Zealand First, Green and New Zealand First Parties. “We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and that swift action has given us valuable time to refine our plan, and increase our preparedness,” Dr Clark said.
Testing capacity increased
He said that since January, the government has increased the country’s testing capacity to 3300 tests per day and expected to grow.
“More than $40 million has been allocated for contact tracing and we have quadrupled Healthline’s workforce since the end of January, to over than 500 staff working on COVID-19. We expect staff numbers to continue to increase,” Dr Clark said.
He said that 49 Community Based Assessment Centres have been established in the Primary Care sector for safe-testing of people with COVID-19 symptoms. Another 61 Centres are in the works, doubling the number of sites available.
PPE for GP clinics
“All GP clinics have also been supplied Personal Protective Equipment, to help protect our GPs, nurses and other staff. Last week, 640,000 face masks were sent to District Health Boards (DHBs) from the National Reserve Supply. The Health Ministry will be opening its national reserves of personal protective equipment to make seven million masks available over coming weeks. The Ministry will begin initial distribution of 1.2 million masks from the national stock to DHBs within the next 48 hours,” Dr Clark said.
“Across our Public Hospitals, we have access to 533 ventilators with another 247 in private hospitals and other organisations. More ventilators are on order from overseas. I also announced yesterday that we are fast tracking 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital. We currently have about 2500 trained ICU/Critical Care nurses and DHBs are running refresher courses and training new staff to care for ventilated patients, if needed,” he added.