45 days ago

How were healthcare workers infected with Covid-19 at work? The Ministry of Health doesn't know

Brian from New Lynn

More than 180 coronavirus cases were healthcare workers but the Ministry of Health doesn't know how they were infected. Doctors and nurses unions say this isn't good enough because being infected with a deadly virus is a health and safety issue.Twenty-four days ago, the Herald asked how many health workers were infected with Covid-19 at their place of work. Today, it provided figures that show 183, or 12 per cent, of all 1504 confirmed and probable cases were health workers.
But the Ministry couldn't say how they were infected - whether it was a patient or colleague - though acknowledged "the importance of understanding where and how people contracted Covid-19." "We continue to work to broaden our understanding and collate this information, so we can continue to keep New Zealanders safe," it said in a statement.
Resident Doctors' Association national secretary, Deborah Powell, said that the Ministry couldn't provide data on how healthcare workers were infected "simply isn't good enough". "We've failed them and we need to know why." One of the measures of success in fighting the virus should have been ensuring healthcare workers were protected and without the data that was impossible to gauge, said Powell. "I am incredibly disappointed that the data isn't available. "Not all of them would have contracted Covid in the workplace that's why not collecting that data is so difficult. Twelve per cent is a really high figure and we think we need to know more about this." Under the Health and Safety at Work Act workers are entitled to work in environments where health risks are properly controlled. Kerri Nuku, of the NZ Nursing Organisation, is disappointed the Ministry of Health can't say how healthcare workers were infected at work. The Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said employers had obligations to keep their staff safe and the "critical" data should be easily accessible so it could be learned from.
District Health Boards and the Ministry needed to know how frontline healthcare workers were infected in order to prevent it happening again.
"I'm just astounded actually to be quite honest. I guess I'm speechless because I'm disappointed. All along the catch cry has been 'Be safe, feel safe' and we've had to take comfort to that."Nuku said there was also "information missing" about how many healthcare workers needed to be stood down or go into isolation after coming into contact with a Covid-19 case. Both Powell and Nuku were also fuming at WorkSafe's refusal to investigate how seven nurses at Waitākere Hospital caught Covid-19 because Waitematā District Health Board had already reviewed what happened. The DHB's investigation only looked into three nurses' infections and was neither independent nor robust, Powell said. WorkSafe said its role as a health and safety regulator "generally doesn't involve investigating the spread of infectious disease". But it intended to conduct a review of the whole regulatory framework to "ensure the most appropriate agency intervenes when it comes to matters involving the public health sector". Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said it surprised him the data on health workers' infections wasn't available as the Ministry had previously reported on healthcare workers who'd been infected in their workplace. On April 15, the Ministry found of 107 healthcare workers, 46 were infected by an exposure to a patient or colleague. But that information has ceased to be reported. Health Minister David Clark said he'd ask the Ministry for the latest figures and expected them to be "working very carefully through these details" and "learning lessons as they go". He was asked whether he thought it was a health and safety issue but did not respond to the question.
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1 day ago

Should everyone in managed isolation wear an electronic bracelet? What do YOU say?

Brian from New Lynn

Health Minister Chris Hipkins is not ruling out the use of electronic bracelets for those in managed isolation after a third person allegedly escaped in the space of six days. The Government is tightening monitoring of those in managed isolation facilities after Queenstown man Martin McVicar, on Thursday night, allegedly jumped down the Distinction Hotel fire escape, eluded police and made a mad dash for booze in Hamilton. But Hipkins said the All-of-Government response had already improved significantly from a man's escape from a facility in Auckland on Tuesday night, when health officials failed to provide timely advice to the Countdown that the man had visited.
By the time the Health Ministry was in touch, Countdown had already viewed CCTV footage, shut shop, completed a deep clean and chosen to self-isolate 18 staff members. "The health communication with Countdown was certainly too late in the piece," Hipkins said. "It does not meet my expectations around the speed of the response and that message has been well understood by all of the relevant health officials." The Health Ministry was quickly part of the response in Hamilton, and should be part of every such response, he said. The Government would be making announcements about ways to tighten up monitoring of those in managed isolation, but Hipkins wouldn't be drawn on the use of electronic bracelets. The use of such bracelets has been floated University of Otago public health expert Professor Nick Wilson. "New Zealand needs to learn all the lessons possible from the apparent failure of quarantine systems in Melbourne. New Zealand could also explore the benefits and costs of the use of electronic bracelets for people, as used in Hong Kong," Wilson said. The bracelets in Hong Kong are mandatory and correspond to an app. If someone tries to break quarantine, it issues a warning. Wilson said the focus should be on the system failures - for example, inadequate fencing or security - rather than the individuals involved. "All systems should be designed to account for the whole range of human behaviour – including people who don't follow the rules." It has been 70 days since the last case of community transmission, and there are two new cases yesterday - both contained in managed isolation facilities. The first case is a man in his 20s who arrived on June 28 from India, while the second is a man in his 20s who arrived on June 27 from England. Both tested positive on their day 12 tests. There are now 23 active cases of coronavirus, none of whom require hospital care. On Thursday there were 2575 tests, still well short of the recommended 4000 daily tests, and Hipkins said the numbers would ramp up in coming days. Part of the reason the testing was too low, he said, was that GPs had told people to get tested but they were being turned away by clinicians at community-based assessment centres (CBAC). Every person showing up at a CBAC with a GP's instruction to be tested should be tested, he said. There have been three escapes out of just under 28,000 people in total who have come through quarantine and managed isolation facilities. "I don't accept people knowingly and willingly breaking the law represent a flaw in the system. These are not maximum security prisons. These are hotels," Hipkins said. "If someone broke into your house and stole all of your stuff, and then turned around and said, 'Well, you should have had better locks,' I don't think anyone would accept that." He said the increase in facility breaches could be an indication of the type of New Zealanders now returning from overseas. "There are fewer families coming through, there are more single people coming back, there are more people who have more complex health needs." He wouldn't be drawn on the reasons for McVicar's alleged escape. The staffer of the Hamilton liquor store who served McVicar said: "He walked in and bought a four-pack of Leffe Blonde and a pinot noir." McVicar, 52, appeared in the Hamilton District Court via audio visual link yesterday and faced a charge of intentional damage of a 52-inch TV and intentionally failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act by leaving a managed isolation facility and purchasing alcohol. He was remanded in custody and denied bail. He will reappear in court on July 15.
Last Saturday, a woman jumped two fences at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland shortly before 6.20pm and was located soon after a couple of blocks away at 8pm on Anzac Ave. She is appearing in the Auckland District Court on Monday. On Tuesday night, a man sneaked through a gap in the fence at the Stamford Plaza in Auckland and visited a Countdown before returning 70 minutes later. He has also been charged. There is now meant to be 24/7 police presence at every one of the quarantine and managed isolation facilities, as well as a lead security person at each facility.
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4 days ago

Poll: Should Kiwis be entitled to more sick leave?

The Team Reporter from Stuff

With Covid-19 still a very real risk, people who are unwell are told to stay home, and to keep any sickly kids home too - but what if you don't have any more sick leave owing?

Most Kiwis are entitled to five days of sick leave a year, but some - often those in lower paid jobs - get less.

New Zealand’s minimum sick leave allowance is one of the lowest in the OECD. In Australia they get 10 days, in most European countries it’s even more.

Should Kiwis be entitled to more sick leave?

To read more, click here.

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Should Kiwis be entitled to more sick leave?
  • 60.2% Yes, five days is not enough
    60.2% Complete
  • 13.8% No, I never use mine up anyway
    13.8% Complete
  • 26% Entitlement should be assessed on a case-by-case basis
    26% Complete
4804 votes
4 hours ago

Paint it red with Resene for Red Nose Day!

Resene

Buy any red testpot from your local Resene owned ColorShop between 13-31 July 2020 and Resene will donate $1 to CureKids Red Nose Day!

The more red testpots you buy, the more will be donated! Offer applies to all retail purchases of Resene red testpots (excludes metallics and wood stains).

Help us make a difference to the health of kiwi children.
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