Date Published: 18 June 2009
NZ remains in containment phase of H1N1 outbreak
New Zealand remains in the containment phase but planning is underway to move to a "manage it" phase when required. Although the number of cases of Influenza A (H1N1) infection is increasing in New Zealand, there are still relatively few cases and isolated instances of community transmission. Most people recover from infection without the need for hospitalisation or medical care.
Containment involves both border management (keep it out) and cluster control (stamp it out). But as more cases are confirmed in the community, the focus will need to shift to boosting the way care is provided in the community. The decision on where best to direct the efforts of health professionals is reviewed daily.
Preventing, delaying and minimising the arrival of further cases of infection into New Zealand and the community spread of infection remain the current objectives.
Planning for the next phase is to enable community-based health services to manage large numbers of people with influenza as well as maintain services for patients with other illnesses. An important part of this approach includes individuals being prepared to look after themselves at home in the same way they would with seasonal flu.
The Ministry of Health is not advising people to cancel social gatherings, sports events and travel. However, there are practical steps that individuals and communities can take to reduce the community spread of the virus. These steps include practising good hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes. If you are sick, stay home until you have fully recovered as you can easily spread the germs to others.
Information for the public is being constantly revised and improved to ensure people have easy access to comprehensive advice about the new Influenza A (H1N1) virus.
Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programme
As part of the management of the Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak, the Ministry of Health has purchased an extra 125,000 doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine, which is available for immediate use.
The fewer people who contract seasonal influenza, the fewer hospitalisations will occur. The people most at risk of complications are those who are in the group eligible for the free programme. If more of this group are vaccinated, it means there will be a better chance of being able to deal with the increasing numbers of people likely to be hospitalized with complications from Influenza A (H1N1).
The Ministry of Health is strongly encouraging frontline health workers to be vaccinated for seasonal influenza. This means hospitals and other frontline health services will be better able to cope with the increased demand over the winter months.