More PPE promised for key areas - COVID-19

By Aroha Mane

Slow distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has health professionals frustrated and in dire need of resources to successfully look after those in their care, as well as protecting themselves. Today the government announced that they have zoned in on key areas of need and resources are on the way.

The Prime Minister confirmed today that the Māori Labour Caucus is working with iwi in their electorates.

"Whanāu Ora providers, in particular, have been doing work to provide essential care packages for whānau who in this time may not necessarily have had the resource to prepare for this self-isolation. I also expect Māori will have a strong voice on the select committee for COVID-19," she says.

However, not all workers in the health sector are happy. Some health professionals are frustrated at the lack of PPE resources to protect their patients and themselves.

The Ministry of Health's Dr Ashley Bloomfield says, "The key thing here is to help provide some certainty for our fantastic health professionals about what's the appropriate use of PPE. We know we've got it, it's available for them but we also need to make sure it's being used where it's needed."

"The Ministry of Health is creating a priority list so essential workers at the most risk of contracting COVID-19 receive masks and personal protection equipment first. DHBs have been given refreshed guidance on the appropriate clinical use of PPE to help them plan usage and ordering," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Some are also concerned health workers are not testing those with GP referrals.

Dr Bloomfield says, "There is still a judgement applied by the clinicians there. Not everyone will be tested even if they have symptoms because there may be a clear other explanation for their symptoms. We're trusting that clinicians with good guidance are testing the right people. As I've said, every day we want to find the cases so we won't turn away people who in the clinician's judgement need a test."

As a contingency plan, the government is calling out to retired or non-practising health professionals.

"There has been a fantastic response there, with more than 2,500 have registered already and that number continues to grow," Dr Bloomfield says.

The government has medical supplies in reserve and also a factory in Whanganui who manufacture supplies daily.