| 18 Apr 2020

During the Level 4 alert, supermarkets are required to have measures in place to ensure customers are kept safe, including limiting the number of customers in the store at one time for customers to be able to keep 2 metres apart.  Dr Cheryl Brunton, South Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the customers who were at the Countdown Supermarket last Wednesday around 1.00pm are not classified as close contacts of the case and, as such,  they are not at increased risk of contracting the disease.

‘Close contact’ is defined as any person with the following exposure to a suspect, confirmed or probable case during the case’s infectious period, without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • direct contact with the body fluids or the laboratory specimens of a case
  • presence in the same room in a health care setting when an aerosol-generating procedure is undertaken on a case
  • living in the same household or household-like setting (eg, shared section of in a hostel) with a case
  • face-to-face contact in any setting within two metres of a case for 15 minutes or more
  • having been in a closed environment (eg, a classroom, hospital waiting room, or conveyance other than aircraft) within 2 metres of a case for 15 minutes or more
  • having been seated on an aircraft within 2 metres of a case (for economy class this would mean 2 seats in any direction including seats across the aisle, other classes would require further assessment)
  • aircraft crew exposed to a case (a risk assessment conducted by the airline is required to identify which crew should be managed as close contacts).

Staff of Community and Public Health, the South Canterbury DHB’s Public Health unit, have been in regular contact with the case since his diagnosis.  “I’d like to reassure the public that the man now understands that he must remain isolated until he is released by our staff”, says Dr Brunton.

The South Canterbury DHB would like to remind the public that the best way to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by following the advice below:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds) and dry thoroughly
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell (stay at least 2 metres away)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Avoid personal contact with sick people, such as kissing and sharing cups or food
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs
  • Stay home if you feel unwell
  • Keep two metres physical distance from people who are not in your bubble. Practice this when you’re using essential services such as supermarkets
  • Practice low-touch shopping. Do not handle things you are not buying, keep your distance, be aware of how you are touching things like bank cards, money, ATMs and Eftpos machines. Wash your hands after touching things like this as soon as you can
  • We are all in this together and it is important as a community we remember to be kind to each other, and to check up on friends, family and neighbours, by using the phone, online messaging, or just chatting over the fence at a safe two-metre distance.

Media contact:

Karen Berry
Communications Manager
South Canterbury District Health Board
P: 03 687 2395 | M: 021 139 7442