Significant aftershocks have continued to be felt in North Canterbury and add to the already high levels of anxiety felt in Canterbury communities, particularly in the Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts. My thoughts go out to those communities and others in Canterbury who have already been through so much. I would like to reassure these communities that they are our number one priority for the foreseeable future. The Canterbury Health System has been offered assistance by other health boards and is working with CDEM, the Ministry and local people to ensure the right support gets to where it is needed most. Hand hygiene is our biggest concern for people in the areas that have disrupted water supplies or damaged sewerage systems. The best thing people can do to avoid becoming unwell is:
Wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub,
ensure drinking water has been boiled or treated with a quarter teaspoonful of bleach to every two litres,
take care with food – if you are unsure about its freshness because fridges and freezers have lost power, do not eat it.
It’s business as usual for all other health services in the Canterbury Health System with the obvious exception of Kaikoura and parts of Hurunui. Primary care, through General Practice and pharmacy, are doing a superb job of ensuring people continue to have that all important first point of call for both their physical and mental health. Kaikoura community pharmacy is still closed but in the meantime it is successfully dispensing from the hospital. Additional nursing staff have been sent to Kaikoura Health to support the clinical team. Two Environmental Health Officers from Christchurch City Council are already in Kaikoura, and two Heath Protection Officers and a Canterbury Medical Officer of Health are on their way to provide support and advice to local people. Community and district nursing teams have completed checks on known vulnerable people in the Kaikoura area and are working on a plan for others who aren’t known to us. A number of psychologists from our specialist mental health services are working closely with Red Cross and Community and Public Health to support the psychosocial recovery and assist vulnerable people in the community, as well as in the welfare centres. Our focus from a health perspective for today and over the next couple of weeks is clean water, sanitation, safe food supplies and support for vulnerable people in the Kaikoura community – including those who are stressed and having trouble coping. ENDS
Note for media: Attribute to David Meates, Canterbury DHB chief executive
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