Saturday 29 February 2020

Panic buying starts in New Zealand

Coronavirus: Queues at 

supermarkets as panic-

buying ramps up

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29 February, 2020

Panic-buying appears to have kicked in, with confirmation the coronavirus COVID-19 has arrived in New Zealand.
And supermarket bosses are urging people to "resist" the urge to stock up.
Lines at a Pak'nSave supermarket in Auckland were out the door on Friday evening, following the confirmation of New Zealand's first case.
A man who'd recently been to Iran arrived on an Emirates flight on Tuesday, feeling sick. His family called Healthline, and testing showed he was positive for the virus, which has killed nearly 3000 people worldwide.

The 60-year-old New Zealand citizen is currently being cared for at Auckland City Hospital.

Newshub visited the Pak'nSave in Botany on Friday night and saw people with trolleys lined up on the footpath outside, some wearing masks.

Staff were reportedly only letting in a few people at a time.

There were also reportedly massive queues at supermarkets in Albany, on Auckland's North Shore, and Remuera.

Queueing began outside Pak'nSave in Royal Oak before 7:30am on Saturday morning, according to reports.

One person told NZME they showed up to the Henderson Pak'nSave in west Auckland after 9pm, only to find there were no trolleys available. It reportedly took him half an hour to get through the queues, when all he wanted was onions for a sausage sizzle.

A spokesperson for Foodstuffs told Newshub management of the Botany store "took the decision to regulate the number of incoming customers in-store, this was due to a sudden influx".

"This decision was taken for about half an hour to help clear the volume of people in-store, and the decision was made for the safety and comfort of customers.

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"If customers continue to shop normally stores will have no issues providing the usual range of products. We would ask customers to resist the urge to stock up as this simply puts unnecessary pressure on stores."

The Ministry of Health insists chances of an outbreak in the community remain low.

Professor Michael Baker of the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago said health officials' handling of the first case has been "exemplary".

"This case is a warning to New Zealand that we cannot be complacent about the global Covid-19 pandemic that will affect most countries this year.

"It shows that we are now entering the next stage of our pandemic plan, which is the ‘stamp it out’ stage of identifying and controlling cases and their contacts, and investigating and controlling chains of transmission.

"Fortunately, both Australia and NZ have so far not seen community transmission. But we must prepare for this eventuality."

Virus expert Professor Miguel QuiƱones-Mateu of the University of Otago said people need to "continue with their daily lives", but pay "extra attention to normal hygiene" and try to avoid touching their faces with "uncleaned hands".

It's not just "international demand". Most of this junk comes from CHINA
"We would ask customers to resist the urge to stock up as this simply puts unnecessary pressure on stores."

Since coronavirus emerged, the demand for hand sanitiser and face masks significantly increased globally, a Foodstuffs spokesperson said.

Some stores may be out of stock and others may have limited supplies.

"We are continuing to work closely with vendors to secure more stock as soon as possible, and exploring new brands to fill the gap, but volumes are limited due to international demand."

She urged New Zealanders to get a flu vaccine to take the load off the system should the novel coronavirus coincide with flu season.
GPs have run out of masks and other protective gear and say that makes them vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, while the government holds on to 18 million masks.

The Ministry of Health has stockpiled nine million masks with filters as well as nine million general surgical masks as part of its pandemic planning.

But the Royal New Zealand College of GPs said several clinics had run out after using up their supply on suspected cases of Covid-19.

The college's president, Samantha Murton, said it had been "extraordinarily difficult" to get more and that was leaving doctors in the community vulnerable.

It was highly likely a GP could encounter the first case in the country and that could happen at any time, she said.

Why do people get paid for rubbish like this? If I start spouting nonsense can I get paid for it?

Professor Michael Baker said New Zealand was now moving into the containment or "stamp it out" phase.

Steps like contact tracing, and quarantining and observation of those people who contact with the person who tested positive were next - and underway, he said.

Put quite starkly people have a choice: "stockpiling" and (perhaps) surviving or being a "good, responsible citizen" and STARVING TO DEATH.

Coronavirus: New Zealand 

patient not subject to health 

checks upon landing at 

Auckland Airport

Ministry of Health's director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told RNZ the patient was improving.

29 February, 2020

The person being treated for coronavirus wasn't subject to any health checks on arrival to New Zealand despite being sick on the plane.
The infected traveller flew into New Zealand on Wednesday, February 26, from Tehran, Iran via Bali on Emirates flight EK450

The patient is being treated in Auckland City Hospital and is in isolation in a negative pressure room to prevent any spread of the disease. They have been in the room since arriving at the hospital.

The Ministry of Health's director of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield spoke with Kim Hill of RNZ on Saturday morning, saying the patient was improving, which was "good news".

Bloomfield told RNZ the patient wasn't subject to any health checks when they arrived in the country and travelled in on a Kiwi passport. 

Passengers arriving into New Zealand are given information in both English and Mandarin about the virus and if they are identified as being unwell they would be assessed and transported to hospital.

The health assessments are not compulsory, and passengers can opt in if they feel ill. 

The patient had reportedly felt unwell on the flight so was wearing a mask.
Bloomfield told RNZ the family's person knew exactly what to do and rang Healthline. 

The patient presented with symptoms of COVID-19 - coughing and having trouble breathing - which were of particular concern. 


Medical staff had a "high degree of suspicion" about the patient, so continued to take further test samples from them, Bloomfield previously told media. 

The person was the first in New Zealand to fulfil the definition of a suspected case.

The first two samples were taken from the person's throat and nasal passage, and returned a negative result.

The clinicians persisted with a third sample, which returned a positive result and pneumonia was also visible on the chest x-ray. 

Bloomfield commended the clinicians in persisting.

At least three family members were also in isolation and would be offered testing.
The ministry would not be re-testing any of the people it had previously tested in New Zealand who had returned a negative result.

Bloomfield said the process followed by the person and their family was "exemplary".

"People need to feel empowered and enabled to do the right thing. In this case, we have a family who did exactly the right thing."

Bloomfield told RNZ he was confident in New Zealand's testing and despite it being possible there are undiagnosed cases, the risk was very low. 

The director of health said those who were self-isolating had contributed to New Zealand staying free of the virus and there's still the opportunity to prevent the virus spreading to the community. 

On Friday, the Ministry of Health insisted the risk of a community outbreak of coronavirus from the patient was low.

Bloomfield told RNZ at this point there's no need to avoid mass gatherings, only those who've travelled from areas which had coronavirus areas. 
"Life goes on as normal," Bloomfield said. 


Earlier this year, National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said the Government had taken too long to implement the screening. 

An Auckland Airport spokesperson said it had followed "Ministry of Health guidelines since the outbreak of COVID-19, and provided assistance to public-health workers in the international terminal."

Auckland Airport continued to prioritise the safety and well-being of its people, particularly those working in areas with high passenger numbers, the spokesperson said.

The airport is following specific guidance from the Ministry of Health and is working hard to ensure people are supported and kept well-informed as the situation evolves.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service said the airport staff who processed the EK450 flight were not considered at risk. 

barber in Auckland has temporarily closed his business after he discovered he was on the same flight as the patient. 

Calab Vincent-Goncalves told Stuff he wouldn't have even known he was on the same flight as the person infected if a friend didn't see it in the news. He said the lack of contact from the health department and the airline is a concern.

"Every person on that flight is a potential carrier and we are just letting them slip through the system instead of acting fast to ensure this does not spread."

The Ministry said it would provide further updates on Saturday afternoon. 
In the meantime shoppers are being asked not to panic and stockpile items. 

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