Masks continue to protect hospital patients, staff | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

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Masks continue to protect hospital patients, staff

14 April 2022

To protect vulnerable patients and staff, local hospitals will continue to screen people for COVID-19 and require the use of masks under the orange traffic-light setting.

The screening of visitors, outpatients and ED attendees includes asking questions about COVID-19, and is among several measures being used at the Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals to limit the spread of the virus.

People are also being asked to wear masks, use hand sanitiser and maintain physical distancing.

People can have COVID-19 without showing any symptoms, which can create complacency about mask-wearing and hand sanitising. Meanwhile, vulnerable patients can be at greater risk of catching COVID and becoming sick.

Visitors who have difficulty wearing masks or who have exemptions are being asked to try to wear one while on hospital grounds – including while they are visiting their loved ones. The hospitals can supply a mask, when needed.

Chief Medical Officer Kate Grimwade says many people in our communities will be welcoming the move to orange for the additional freedoms, particularly in public areas.

However, we must continue to protect vulnerable patients and staff at the hospitals.

“Wearing a mask is one of the best ways to keep people safe when you’re visiting loved ones in hospital,” Kate says.

“We’re also asking that visitors show patience and spare a few minutes for screening questions at the hospital entrance.

“It’s crucial that we provide the highest level of protection for our patients – and also for our staff, who are working so hard to serve their communities.”

The Government says that health facilities often work with vulnerable people with a heightened risk of transmission, and it is up to DHBs to determine the appropriate use of masks on hospital grounds.

However, under orange, there is no requirement to display scanning codes or maintain visitor records.

The Government announced the move to orange yesterday, with the change into effect at 11.59pm last night.

For the wider community, the key points under orange are:

  • You can continue to do everyday activities, but we need to protect our vulnerable communities.
  • You must wear a face mask in many indoor locations. You do not need to wear a face mask outdoors.
  • You can visit cafes and bars, attend gatherings and events, and go to the hairdresser and gym. There are no capacity limits or distancing requirements at venues.
  • Workplaces and schools can open.
  • To protect yourself, your whānau and your community, keep up healthy habits.