NZ Ministry of Health’s Dr. Parwaiz on key areas to help Niue with its Covid-19 response

One of the public health doctors from the New Zealand Ministry of Health Dr. Mariam Parwaiz is currently on the island supporting the Niue health department with its Covid-19 response. 

“The team here have been doing a fantastic job so far but with the opening of QFT travel between New Zealand and Niue, it’s an opportunity to update the protocols and processes that are already in place here, ” says Dr. Parwaiz. 

BCN news spoke with Dr. Parwaiz yesterday morning where she shared six key areas that the Government of Niue (GON) has been doing and that the people can contribute to continue to keep Niue safe and protected from the coronavirus. 

The six key areas include: 

  1. Vaccination – minimises hospitalisations and deaths
  2. Masks – lowers risk of spreading the virus
  3. Ventilation – virus particles floating in the air just flies away with the fresh air
  4. Physical distancing – ideally at 1.5m inside public places
  5. Cleaning and disinfection – using cleaning and disinfectant products to clean high touch surfaces (e.g. tables, chairs and doors)
  6. Personal habits – if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home and keep others safe. 

Dr. Parwaiz also shared the purposes of the different types of masks, including: 

  1. Cloth mask 
  2. Blue surgical mask 
  3. N95 or KN95 mask 

The cloth mask can be washed and reused multiple times but is less effective at keeping the virus away. 

The blue surgical mask can be washed and reused up to five times. And for the N95 or KN95 mask, it can also be used up to five times but cannot be washed. Only stored in a cool open area. However, it is the most effective mask to protect oneself from catching or spreading the virus. 

Dr. Parwaiz says that any type of mask is better than wearing no mask at all as it limits the risk of transmission. 

Dr. Parwaiz also explained the term ‘community cases’ or ‘community transmission’ that has been confused and mistaken by locals on the island. 

Community cases are cases in the community that are not linked to the border. 

She explains that the island is on National Covid-19 Alert Code Yellow because cases are linked to the border. Meaning “cases and contacts are well controlled.”

“As long as we can link it back to the border, it’s still a well controlled response and the public should continue with their usual habits.”

“If there is community transmission, the response level may change but there’s things that people can do to keep safe at home,” says Dr. Parwaiz. 

Rest and hydration are very important for recovery from Covid-19 says Dr. Parwaiz. 

“Most people who have Covid can get better at home with rest and hydration.”

“The main thing is if someone does have Covid, the things to look out for if they are having trouble breathing, they get chest pain, severe headache, suddenly become confused or if any family member is worried, that’s when you should be calling the hospital and getting advice. But otherwise, most people should be able to manage at home,” says Dr. Parwaiz. 

Dr. Parwaiz is encouraging people to get into the habit of wearing masks and make sure that work spaces and gatherings are well ventilated, are just some suggestions of how to minimize the risk of catching Covid-19. 

Washing your hands and social distancing should by now be common habits and if you have any questions, to contact the health department on 4100 or visit the website which contains all the information you need to keep yourself, your families and your communities safe.  

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