Coronavirus: Ministry of Health worried there are shortfalls in protective equipment at DHBs

The Ministry of Health is concerned there may be shortfalls in personal protective equipment (PPE) at DHBs for primary health carers.

The worries come as the coronavirus continues to spread globally, but the Ministry wants to ensure New Zealand is well-prepared in case the disease arrives here.

The Ministry's Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says one of the issues is the need for health professionals to have a full set of PPE - something that DHBs may not have.

"We have been checking through our DHBs and PHOs for gaps that there may be out there at the primary care level, and we are ensuring that supplies of equipment that they need will get to those practices as soon as possible."

She says there are a lot of supplies, but she wants them to be evenly distributed throughout the country because they "really don't know" if or where in New Zealand someone will have COVID-19.

They've asked DHBs to report on gaps in their equipment, and that assessment is now being reviewed by a team at the National Health Coordination Centre.

If there aren't enough supplies in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health says they may need to order equipment from overseas.

"Part of the assessment is making sure what we've got in the country is well-distributed, but then also what else do we need to get into New Zealand so that we can keep that supply chain going," Dr McElnay says.

There are still no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.