Nicky Prinsep of Prices Pharmacy says they have been inundated with Coronavirus inquiries. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Chemists’ shelves stripped

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The panic surrounding the coronavirus has spread to Nelson with locals clearing chemist shelves and businesses discouraging sick customers from entering.

Nicky Prinsep from Prices Pharmacy says they have sold out of masks and hand sanitiser.

“We are just trying to keep the supplies coming as fast as we can.”

Prices is one of a number of Nelson businesses that are taking precautions against the virus by discouraging those showing symptoms from entering their premises.

Vivo Hair and Enhanceskin in Buxton Square also have signage at their doors, asking if you are ill or have travelled recently to please reschedule your appointment.

“We had information from the Ministry of Health and that was something they wanted us to have on out windows so that people who fear they may have the virus or want more information know where to go.”

Nicky says it’s about helping allay people’s fears. “

It’s also for people who don’t really understand whats happening, our pharmacy staff have been very busy reassuring people.”

Nelson-Marlborough Health confirmed last week that two people from the region are being monitored for any signs they have contracted coronavirus.

A health board spokesperson said the two were passengers on the Emirates flight from Dubai to Auckland, via Bali, on which a traveller was confirmed on Friday as having the virus.

However, on Monday they said there are no confirmed cases in the Nelson Marlborough region and the Ministry of Health emphasises that, with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

People who have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should stay at home and seek medical advice from Healthline.

Covid-19: Practical advice on keeping yourself healthy

Chief medical officer for the Nelson Marlborough Health Nick Baker gives some practical advice on keeping yourself healthy. 

What are the best ways to prevent the spread of viruses like Covid-19?

There are some simple steps that people can take: Avoid close contact with people who have a flu-like illness, cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands properly, don’t go to work if you are unwell, and don’t share food.
What should people remember around hand washing?

Now is the time to do the things we should normally do well. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water, or antibacterial hand wash. Remember to wash your hands before you eat or handle food, after you’ve been to the toilet, after coughing or sneezing, or caring for someone who is sick.

What should someone do if they think they have symptoms?

If you are feeling unwell, isolate yourself. Stay home from work. Particularly if you have travelled recently and are feeling unwell, contact healthline for advice, and avoid other people. Make sure you avoid public spaces, particularly hospitals and other health settings. We don’t want people who think they may be displaying symptoms of Covid-19 to arrive without warning at health settings. Call ahead and get some advice before you come face-to-face
Why is this important?

We want to try and contain this, the sooner we can stop spreading it, the sooner we can catch our cases, the better chance we have at reducing spread. It’s a matter of protecting other people who are sick and are particularly vulnerable, as well as protecting staff who need to be look after patients. If you are at all in doubt, keep your distance.
How concerned should people be about the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand?

Looking at the situation in New Zealand at the moment, your chances of catching it here remain very low. We need to be alert, and ready to stamp it out, but at the moment we are still focusing on keeping it out. People do not need to be building stockpiles of food, the case numbers in New Zealand are very low. It is less infections than measles, if someone in a household has measles, 90 per cent of the other people in the house who could catch it do. With Covid-19, it’s between 3-10 per cent. For a lot of people this would be a mild illness, but it would be more severe for people with underlying conditions and older people. For those people it’s important that they are doing everything they can to keep themselves healthy.
Would getting the flu vaccine help?

Symptoms between the Flu and Covid-19 are very similar, and we don’t want to get cases mixed up. Flu season causes busyness in our health system, so the earlier we can get people vaccinated the better. It will mean there is less confusion.