Today, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board reached a milestone declaring all of its 44 COVID-19 cases recovered.
Interim Chief Executive Craig Climo said while we still needed to play it safe, today was a big occasion for many of the district health board teams who worked tirelessly on COVID-19 for many weeks.
Hawke’s Bay had 44 cases of COVID-19 and today everyone has been declared recovered, including the residents and workforce at Gladys Mary Care Home, Napier.
This does not clear the Ruby Princess cluster, which needs to meet Ministry of Health requirements before it can be cleared as a cluster, but there are no active cases remaining within this cluster.
Mr Climo said the community needed to be aware of the lengths the public health team had gone to contact trace and monitor since January, when the threat of COVID-19 became apparent.
“This very talented team has done extensive investigations of anyone that may have come into contact with COVID-19. Today is testament to a job well-done.
“As part of the early response public health went through a wide-ranging case-finding exercise to follow-up as many people as possible who may have come into close contact with passengers and/or crew from the Ruby Princess cruise ship. The investigation, conducted in three phases, followed up and interviewed over 130 people who had direct contact with either passengers or crew. The team also retrospectively followed-up anyone else who may have had contact with the Ruby Princess passengers and had been admitted to hospital. With the support of Health Hawke’s Bay (PHO) the team also electronically searched general practice records to ensure no-one, who may have presented with cold or other COVID symptoms and did not meet the case definition at the time, was missed. This was a huge undertaking. As a community we should all be grateful for the diligence and expertise of this team to make sure no stone was left unturned and community transmission was prevented.
“The public health team’s work has been supported by an enormous effort from staff in Community-Based Assessment Centres, Hawke’s Bay Hospital and other settings to test people with symptoms of COVID. Many of these staff stepped up at short notice to ensure testing could be done in a safe and effective way at a time when numbers were increasing and there was a lot of uncertainly about what could happen. Over the last three weeks an equally large effort has been made to search for possible cases amongst people who may have been exposed to the virus, but with no symptoms. With no cases being found this helped to provide assurance that we could move into level 2.
“The hard work and huge collaborative effort of HBDHB specialist aged care and infection, prevention and control teams working closely with public health and Gladys Mary Care Home owners BUPA was exemplary to contain the spread and keep people safe. To have those vulnerable elderly residents now fully recovered is a credit to everyone involved.
“I’d also like to congratulate the Hawke’s Bay community and all of the wider community groups that helped support health’s response, so far. It’s been a huge effort to get us into a position where we can again mix and mingle, open our businesses, albeit with some restrictions, return to work and a new normal.
“The DHB has begun in earnest its recovery to rapidly increase its clinical capacity so we can treat and see the many people who have had planned elective surgery and outpatients’ clinics postponed during the lockdown period.”
Mr Climo said while the early battles have been won the threat of COVID does remain and public health amongst a number of other teams would continue to operate as part of an emergency response structure within the DHB.
“We continue to urge anyone with any cold-like symptoms to call their GP or Healthline 0800 611 116 so they can be tested for COVID – vigilance remains everyone’s best protection.
“We mark a milestone today, and I along with my colleagues are very grateful to the community for obeying the rules during the lockdown so we could get on top of and prevent community transmission.
“I would like to thank my staff. They have done a tremendous job, and while it’s not yet over they can be proud of a job well done,” Mr Climo said.