Christchurch DHB to provide more PPE to Burwood Hospital but nurses are scared it's not enough

Frontline workers at Burwood Hospital, where six people have died from COVID-19, are worried for their safety due to the lack of PPE available to them.

One nurse from the hospital told Newshub she wasn't surprised workers were being diagnosed with the virus.

"I knew it was only a matter of time before a nurse became infected and I'm completely appalled at how Infection Control are managing the situation."

She says she fears for her safety and that of her colleagues during every shift that she works.

NZ Nurses Organisation president Kerri Nuku says staff at the hospital's GG COVID-19 ward want to comfort the sick but don't have the protective gear they need. 

"All you want to do is provide the care and the time to be with them and nurse them. Not having to struggle against what feels like the politics of the system."

She says many staff members are still asking for shoe covers, hair nets and full visor masks to protect themselves from the virus.

"[They are] absolutely important, especially when they go home to their families and are often in the same shoes." 

Now nurses are making their own PPE but their union says they are being told they aren't allowed it.

The DHB responded on Wednesday saying they will start issuing the hospital staff with visors and N95 masks, which are much more robust than surgical masks.

They will also be adding what they call "PPE champions" to the ward - a team that checks that protective equipment is being worn correctly. 

But they won't provide other items including foot and hair covers that overseas hospitals are using. 

The DHB has refused to provide the extra gear because it says the Ebola outbreak showed some healthcare workers contracted the disease due to self-contamination when removing PPE. 

However, the Centre for Disease Control research in Wuhan found coronavirus was "widely distributed on floors", especially in ICU wards. 

Newshub's source at Burwood Hospital says they're pleased the DHB has taken some action, but she does not believe it should have taken this long, as some staff have been left at breaking point. 

Around New Zealand, 115 healthcare staff have been infected with COVID-19 so far. That's 8 percent of all cases. 

Of these, 46 got the virus at their work or through exposure to a colleague outside of work.

The Health Ministry says around five health workers contracted the virus directly through interaction with a patient. 

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