Local hospitals urge visitors to wear masks and keep patients safe | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

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Local hospitals urge visitors to wear masks and keep patients safe

05 July 2022

Tauranga and Whakatāne hospital staff are asking visitors to wear masks and follow other public health requirements to keep patients safe from COVID-19 and the flu.

They are also asking people to avoid visiting friends and whānau in hospital if they are sick with an infection that can be transmitted to others.

The number of people with COVID-19 and the flu has been creeping up in recent weeks, and the two local hospitals were caring for a total of 22 patients with COVID-19 as of Monday.

Chief Operating Officer Bronwyn Anstis says there have been several instances at local hospitals recently in which visitors have infected patients and staff with COVID-19.

“There is the potential for some people visiting their loved ones to be carrying COVID-19 or the flu without showing any symptoms,” she says.

“Because they don’t know they’re infectious, there is the possibility of visitors putting staff and vulnerable patients at risk by removing their masks and getting too close to other people.”

The hospitals are asking visitors to:

  • wear a properly fitted mask
  • wash/sanitise their hands regularly
  • keep their distance from other people as much as possible.

“The safety of patients and staff is our highest priority,” says Bronwyn.

“Please be kind to our staff – they’re doing their best to keep everyone safe.”

Respiratory diseases like COVID-19, the flu and RSV can place a lot of pressure on hospitals – partly because large numbers of patients need care, and partly because staff catch the diseases and cannot work.

At various times this winter, some Tauranga and Whakatāne hospital departments have had 10% or more of their staff on sick leave while the hospitals are caring for large numbers of patients.