In January Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus 2019 (n-COV), which currently poses a low risk to New Zealanders. While so far the virus has been found in 2,000 (of 11 million) people in the Hubei Province, the World Health Organisation is taking this very seriously.
The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the evolving situation and Fire and Emergency has established a working group to monitor and provide further advice. It is important to ensure any risks to the service and health of personnel are managed accordingly and this means looking after yourselves! UFBA endorse the proactive stance FENZ is taking. We are in regular contact with the Working Party sponsor and are closely monitoring this work, and will keep you informed as important matters arise.
What should you do
There are three simple things you can do to mitigate and manage general risks around contracting viruses:
- Manage personal hygiene. Regularly wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap and dry thoroughly.
- Follow basic etiquette like covering your nose and mouth with a tissue – or if not possible using the crook of your elbow – when sneezing.
- Stay home and avoid contact with anyone if you display cold or flu-like symptoms. Contact your OIC and phone for advice from your doctor.
Some of you might feel inclined to remain on call if unwell, especially where your service is stretched. However if the situation develops further please be mindful of the risk to patients and fellow brigade members – you need to monitor your own health and wellbeing and protect that of your team.
If you are on call you also need to be mindful that any patients you tend to with symptom onset could have travelled through China within the past 14 days. Advice at present is to ensure you use PPE to limit droplet contact, including surgical masks and particle respirator or face mask. Fire and Emergency have arranged for additional N95 masks to be distributed.
This remains an evolving situation which may get worse or improve. The authorities will do what needs to be done to ensure public safety. For now keep a regular check on the FENZ Portal for updates, monitor the Ministry of Health and ensure you use your PPE accordingly – this is after all designed to offer general protection.
Look after yourselves and stay well.
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