Ministry of Health doing all it can to ensure adequate supply of protective gear for medical staff

"All stones are being turned" to ensure New Zealand's stock of protective gear is maintained, so frontline workers are protected against Covid-19 coronavirus.

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Dr Bloomfield told media today the country has a national pandemic supply of personal protect equipment. Source: 1 NEWS

Medical staff have been pleading with people to stop taking hospital supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), as the number of people infected with Covid-19 in New Zealand rose by 85 today.

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Eight people are in hospital, with one in intensive care.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told media today the country has a national pandemic supply of PPE - such as face masks and gowns - and individuals also have their own dedicated supplies.

"We have these stockpiles that have been here just for this sort of situation and for when it's needed."

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In those reserves there are currently:
- 1.9 million aprons and gowns
- 2.7 million pairs of gloves
- 60,000 sets of eye protection
- There is also 18 million masks in storage. and five million held by DHBs.

"The Ministry is exploring all existing and a range of new avenues to maintain our stock, and we have a range of very productive conversations happening, that includes working with private sector people across New Zealand that have very good contacts internationally. 

"All stones are being turned over to make sure we keep our stock at the level needed to protect our health care workforce and essential workers."

Dr Bloomfied said there were two issues with the distribution of PPE, one being the distribution is designed for non-pandemic conditions and the second being the need for getting PPE out to frontline workers who may not usually need it.

"We're getting in place the processes so not only they've got (PPE), but they also know when and how to use it."

"We're wanting to make sure we have a really clear national process."

"The key thing is to provide some certainty to our fantastic health professional about what is the appropriate use of PPE. We know we've got it, it's available for them, but we also need to make sure it's being used where it's needed."

He said the guidance would be on the Covid-19 website shortly.