This page features news, information and resources relating to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak in the Nelson Marlborough region.

Important information

Health and disability services will be available as normal under Alert Level 1, with appropriate safety measures in place.

  • There will be no changes to planned care – appointments, clinics and surgical procedures will go ahead. People should attend their scheduled appointments at the hospital unless they have been contacted and told otherwise. People who are unwell and may be infectious should not put others at risk – they should phone ahead to reschedule their appointment or to make special arrangements for urgent care. 
  • Patients will be asked screening questions pre and at presentation for elective appointments, eg, about whether they have been overseas recently, had contact with anyone who has been overseas recently, or had any potential recent exposure to COVID-19 such as being a close contact of a confirmed or probable case. They may also be asked if they have recently travelled to Auckland, or been in contact with someone who has.
  • Screening will continue at all Emergency Department entrances.
  • Staff will adhere to infection prevention guidelines. Patients and visitors are asked to cooperate with hand hygiene rules, and any requests to them from health workers.
  • Staff, patients and visitors are encouraged to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
  • Mask guidance: Patients who have symptoms may be asked to wear a mask during their appointment or procedure, and while they are in the hospital building. 
  • Hospitals will operate in line with the National Hospital Response Framework.
  • Some appointments will be offered by virtual consultation.

Under Alert Level 1, hospital visiting hours have returned to normal. 

Please remember:

  • the more space there is between you and others, the harder it is for viruses and bugs to spread.
  • if you are unwell please stay home.
  • visitors are important for a patient's recovery - but so is rest. Be mindful of the balance.
  • keep track of where you've been by using the tracing app — NZ COVID Tracer. This app works by scanning a QR code on a poster displayed at the hospital entrance.

For more information on visiting hours, see our Visiting Hours page.

 

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home until they have obtained medical advice or testing from Healthline or their GP. If you have been tested, follow the instructions given to you by the nurse or GP about what to do during the time you are waiting for your test results.

While at home, people with symptoms should ensure they take hygiene measures to reduce risk of transmitting their possible respiratory infection to other people in their households. This means thorough and regular handwashing and drying, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching their face, and regular cleaning of surfaces that they touch with their hands.

People are asked to follow the Alert Level 1 rules, eg:

  • staying home if you're sick
  • maintaining good hygiene practices
  • keeping track of where you've been by using the NZ COVID-19 Tracer App or a written diary record

Read all Alert Level 1 rules

Read about COVID-19 symptoms

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as cold or flu symptoms, contact Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor to find out if you need a test.

If you are offered a test for COVID-19, please take it. It will help us ensure we don’t have community transmission, and help keep your friends, family and whānau safe.

A COVID-19 test is free of charge.

The symptoms for COVID-19 are:

  • a fever (high temperature)
  • a cough
  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • a sore throat
  • sneezing and a runny or dripping nose
  • a temporary loss of sense of smell

Please refer to the Ministry of Health website for more information about testing

Testing is free for people with COVID-19 symptoms in the Nelson Marlborough region. If you are unsure of whether you should get a test, call Healthline for advice: 0800 358 5453.

Here are your options for testing:

1. At your regular GP clinic (your family doctor). Appointments are needed, but there is no charge for testing. Phone ahead first if you are planning to visit your doctor and request a test.

All GP practices in the Nelson Marlborough region are offering COVID-19 testing except for Tima Health in Nelson and Havelock Medical Centre. You can view a full list of GPs offering COVID-19 testing and their opening hours on HealthPoint.

2. After-hours clinics:

Nelson Medical & Injury Centre:

  • 98 Waimea Rd
  • 8am to 10pm, 7 days a week
  • Ph: 03 546 8881

Urgent Care Centre, Blenheim:

  • Wairau Hospital (near ED), Hospital Rd
  • 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week
  • Ph: 03 520 6377

 After-hours centre information for Golden Bay, Motueka and Murchison is available online here.

3. Community-based assessment centres (CBAC)

The CBACs closed on Sunday 20 September but are able to open again at short notice. They will open again if the Alert Levels increase, if the local situation changes or if the demand for testing becomes too much for GP clinics to handle.

4. Testing is available for inpatients in hospitals and for people presenting to EDs in emergencies.

 

The latest test numbers are available below: 

 

NELSON

TASMAN

MARLBOROUGH

TOTAL TESTS

13 August to 20 September 2020

Tested: 3476

Tested: 1514

Tested: 2052

 7042

Note: 

i) Data is from all providers of tests: community-based assessment centres (CBACs), GP clinics, after-hours clinics (urgent care) and hospitals and at maritime borders (eg ports).

ii) The data is for the test site location, and not the the place of residency for the person who was tested. For example, a test taken by a Tasman-based person who had their test at the Nelson community-based assessment center will be recorded under Nelson test data.

For the full breakdown of tests per day (since 13 August 2020), please see the COVID-19 testing data webpage.

The process for people in our region who test positive for COVID-19 is the same as in other regions, as directed by NZ health authorities.

There is some clear information about the process, and the length of time people stay in isolation for, on the Ministry of Health's webpage here.

A person with a confirmed case, who does not require hospitalisation, will be required to go into isolation. A Medical Officer of Health (in the Public Health Service) will work with the Ministry of Health to determine the most appropriate location for isolation is depending on the person's circumstances. This could include relocation to a managed isolation facility in Christchurch.

Contact tracing allows for testing, isolation and treatment to be undertaken if required. It is a key part of our COVID-19 elimination strategy and the Ministry of Health also provides a back-up service to support Public Health Units if there is a surge of cases.

In our region, the Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service (NMPHS) undertakes contact tracing for confirmed cases, and their close contacts (eg families, flatmates who live in the same house) in our region.

Other contact tracing (eg for people on flights), is undertaken by the specialised national close contact tracing service.

Our message for the community is that the NMPHS, and the national close contact tracing service, undertake expert contact tracing to reach close contacts – the people most at risk – as they determine necessary. Close contacts will be contacted directly.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) will not disclose personal information about a confirmed case’s movements if it is not useful to the contact tracing process or when that contact’s movements have not placed the public at risk.

NMH will take a proactive approach and alert the public (eg via media release and social media) about a location, or event, when this is determined necessary. A public alert would be issued when it has been determined that members of the public at a certain location or event may be possible casual contacts, and would be unable to be identified and contacted through the contact tracing process.

The process

  1. Any positive COVID-19 case is statutorily reported to a Medical Officer of Health in the NMPHS
  2. Every case is then interviewed by a NMPHS employee to determine risk factors, including travel
  3. Contact tracing commences 
  4. Every case is monitored by the NMPHS until a Medical Officer of Health has determined that it is safe for the person to come out of isolation

For definitions of close and casual contacts, and more information about contact tracing, go to the Ministry of Health's website.

People can make contact tracing easier for health officials by keeping a record of where they go and when and who they meet. They should use the NZ COVID Tracer app or another method if they do not have a smart-phone.

Close contacts are people who have had quite close exposure to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 during the case’s infectious period – for example, living in the same household or being within 2 metres of a case for 15 minutes or more.

They are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected through that exposure. We are asking people who have been identified as a close contact to get a test and stay in self-isolation for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Casual contacts are people whose exposure to a case was shorter or further away and they don’t meet the criteria for a close contact.

They are likely to be at lower risk of being infected following exposure. We are asking people identified as a casual contact to monitor their health for 14 days after exposure and seek advice from their GP or Healthline if they become unwell or develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

More information on this can be found on this webpage.

People can make contact tracing easier for health officials by keeping a record of where they go and when and who they meet. They should use the NZ COVID Tracer app or another method if they do not have a smart-phone.

In simple terms a probable case is someone where the suspicion of disease is so high that the clinicians believe this is more than likely a case than not but cannot prove this by lab testing. Whereas A confirmed case has 'laboratory definitive evidence'.

Here are the ways that someone may be diagnosed as a probable COVID-19 case:

  1. They are a close contact of a confirmed case and meet the clinical criteria, but cannot readily be tested
  2. The clinician assessing them believes that, based on clinical symptoms and their exposure history, that they are very likely to be a case 

Why is a probable case sometimes reclassified as a confirmed case?

Every so often a ‘probable’ case is reclassified as a ‘confirmed’ case. This has been happening since the Ministry of Health revised the case definition for COVID-19, which resulted in a change to the testing requirements.

Since the case definition changed, we have retested some people who previously had negative results or didn’t get tested due to the case definition at the time, and who were diagnosed as a probable case.

If their new test comes back as positive, we change their status to ‘confirmed’.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) advises DHBs to release case info only at territorial authority (ie, division by regional or district council) level.

This is primarily to protect the privacy of individuals. The MoH provides the following information for each case: Gender, age range and any relevant travel details. If a DHB were add to this data, by providing a specific location for that case, the person’s identity could be assumed – either correctly or incorrectly. This could lead to a privacy breach.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) decided to confirm Golden Bay data on 18 April in direct response to community demand for this information. By doing so, NMH is one of very few DHBs to break case data down beyond territorial authority level.

Here is the MoH guidance to DHBs:
Information about testing and cases (both confirmed and probable) can be released at either the DHB or TA level as per Ministry of Health guidelines.

It should be noted that the release of TA level information should be exercised with discretion where there is a risk of compromising patient confidentiality, especially in light of information being released on a national level. The Ministry continues to see some inappropriate behaviour against people who are being tested or have/had COVID-19 by some parts of the community. We continue to need to act to respect patient confidentiality.

It’s OK to ask for help. As we work through this together, there are people and agencies able to support you.

For financial or welfare support

Help is available if you're experiencing financial distress, including help for businesses and foreign nationals in NZ.

Go to the main Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Health and wellbeing helplines 

Free apps, toolkits, and other digital resources are also available to help you look after your mental wellbeing. Choose one that works for you: https://uniteforrecovery.govt.nz/wellbeing/mental-wellbeing/free-tools-resources-and-apps/

  • Call your doctor or contact Healthline for free advice about your mental or physical health: 0800 611 116
  • Call or text 1737 for free mental health or addictions support
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
  • Alcohol & Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

For health advice about babies and children

Speak to a nurse via the free Plunket helpline, for all families, whānau and caregivers: 0800 933 922

For support with family violence or sexual violence

  • Call 111 if you or someone else is in immediate danger of being harmed or harming themselves
  • Find local support services: 0800 211 211 or www.familyservices.govt.nz/directory
  • Call Women's Refuge for advice, support and safe accommodation: 0800 733 843
  • Call the free Elder Abuse Helpline if you, or someone you know, is experiencing elder abuse: 0800 32 668 65

For concerns about the wellbeing or safety of a child

Call Oranga Tamariki if a child or young person is unsafe, not being cared for, or separated from their parents or caregivers: 0508 326 459

For employment advice and support

The new Connected.govt.nz website connects New Zealanders to the wide range of supports and advice available from government agencies to help workers and businesses deal with the impact of COVID-19. 

There is information on apprenticeships, job hunting, training and business support. 

 

Resources to share

Posters:

Posters for businesses

A range of posters for businesses are available from the covid19.govt.nz site, including posters on:

Information sheets:

If you have a social media account, please follow and share:

There is a range of graphics and resources to share online: