176 days ago


Enviro Painters Ltd

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All staff are Trade Qualified and i have over 27 years in the trade giving you peace of mind that you will be dealing with a professional. We service all of North Canterbury and Christchurch.

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1 day ago

Covid-19: Older, vulnerable Kiwis urged to ‘hunker down’ when Omicron cases peak

Nicole Mathewson Reporter from The Press

From reporter Cate Broughton:
Older and vulnerable people are being encouraged to “hunker down” in their homes during the peak of the Omicron virus, by some health experts – but others say this isn’t necessary.

New Zealand epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely is based at Melbourne University and says he encouraged his nearly 80-year-old parents – who live in Rotorua – to stay at home when Omicron cases climb and the virus becomes endemic.

However, Cancer Society medical director Kate Gregory said there was not enough evidence to support giving this advice to cancer patients.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed there was community transmission of the Omicron variant in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health on Monday reported confirmed Omicron cases in the Nelson-Tasman region, Auckland and Palmerston North.

Blakely said he talked to his parents about continuing their usual activities while using a N95 mask, but “hunkering down” when cases climbed.

“You probably do that for another 10 days until case numbers start to go up in Rotorua, and then you really hunker down. So that’s what we’ve talked about.”

Blakely said “the maths of an epidemic” meant up to half of the population was likely to get infected with Omicron.

“The trick is to make sure the people who get infected are the young ones. So you accept that. You accept there will be hospitalisations associated with that.

But to minimise the hospitalisations, the mortality and morbidity – a bit like trench warfare – you send over the young ones, and you hunker down the oldies and those with co-morbidities.”

Blakely said his parents, who are double vaccinated and have had their booster, had already decided to stay at home when cases climbed.

But he said it was hard to say how long this period should last.

New Zealand’s traffic light setting of red – the highest level of restrictions under the traffic light system –would help to slow the spread of Omicron, and protect essential services from being overwhelmed, but this would also mean the peak of the virus would last longer, Blakely said.

“Here’s the deep irony, the better New Zealanders are at flattening the curve, the longer the hunker down will be.”

Blakely acknowledged prolonged periods of isolation for the elderly and vulnerable could have significant mental health impacts.

In Australia, Omicron has taken a huge toll on the aged-care sector with hundreds of outbreaks in aged care homes. But some families have said the lockdowns were overly cautious and too hard on the elderly residents, most of whom were fully vaccinated.

Wellington GP and Royal New Zealand College of General Practice (RNZCGPs) medical director Bryan Betty said the Australian experience of Omicron showed it could peak for as long as four to six weeks.

Betty said most people – including fit older people – would experience a mild to moderate illness, if infected.

“However, the caveat on this is ... we know the biggest risk factor for a poorer outcome from Covid is age, the elderly population in particular are vulnerable to a poorer outcome with Covid.”

Betty said it would be good for older people to consider staying home, with some support from friends and family, “as the case numbers rise” in the community.

Cancer Society medical director Kate Gregory said there was not enough evidence to date to support advising patients to stay home, but this could change “if we see much higher numbers”.

“If, in a week’s time we are seeing thousands and thousands of cases we may be advising people differently. I think the reassuring thing we’ve seen is that Omicron doesn’t seem to cause such severe disease and we know the vaccine provides very good protection.”

Gregory said for cancer patients the best defence is to be vaccinated and for the people in their households to be vaccinated.”

She said in her experience a “vast majority” of cancer patients had received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine, many with a third primary dose.

“It’s a frightening time, and especially for those who are more vulnerable.

"I think as long as people have the vaccine, wear the mask, do the hand-washing and get tested promptly, I think that’s probably fine. At the moment, that’s the advice we’re giving our patients.”

3 hours ago

MP pushes for mental health training in Rangiora as part of national strategy

Nicole Mathewson Reporter from Northern Outlook

From Local Democracy Reporter Adam Burns:
Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey is imploring North Cantabrians to engage with a national suicide prevention initiative so people are better equipped to talk it out.

LifeKeepers is an internationally proven, community-led programme, funded by the Ministry of Health, which melds an ‘‘evidence-based approach’’ with local knowledge, and Doocey believes the stigma of not reaching out needs to be discarded.

An all day LifeKeepers training course is scheduled to be held in Rangiora on February 1, however the country's shift into the red setting of the traffic light system means the event will go ahead with limited numbers.

Doocey serves as the National Party's mental health spokesperson and was approached by Canterbury healthcare consultancy Pegasus Health about the initiative, one of several national programmes established to tackle New Zealand's steep suicide numbers.

"Part of my work in parliament is to break down the barriers," he said.

Doocey is a member of a cross-party mental health group alongside Labour MP Louisa Wall, the Green Party's Chloe Swarbrick and ACT MP Brooke van Velden.

The group commissioned the Zero Suicide Aotearoa report, released in 2020, which argued for to "a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach that involved central government agencies, local communities and whānau".

"What that means is suicide prevention for dairy farmers is going to be a lot different than what the approach is about suicide prevention for young people," Doocey said.

"What we need for people who are working on the ground is to equip themselves with the skills and then translate them into those local communities."

Pegasus Health suicide prevention coordinator Elle Cradwick said the training, which she described as one of the best initiatives in the country, would offer practical tools to have important conversations.

"The training is certainly designed for everyday people, weaving in everyday experiences," she said.

Doocey said he was determined to help break down "some of the stigma".

"My assumption is a lot of people may see training like this and think 'I'm not sure if I want to be involved in that'."

Another mental health initiative, Mates in Construction, which targeted mental health in the building industry, was scheduled to host an event earlier this week in Christchurch, but was postponed due to the change to red.

Doocey said the construction sector had the highest suicide rate of any industry in the country.

Canterbury police officer Don Munro said it was also not a widely discussed subject among agricultural-based districts, such as the Waimakariri.

"It's an issue with all age groups," he said.

"It's because we don't talk about it, or discuss it with the run-of-the-mill, staunch farmer because they don't want to be seen as being weak, or to be seen to have an issue.

"There is a stigma attached to traditional Kiwi-New Zealanders, you have to get in there and have those conversations and acknowledge it's OK to be not OK."

1 day ago

Collector seeks rare bottles

Nicole Mathewson Reporter from Northern Outlook

Simon-Peter Svensson has been stuck under floorboards in his quests to collect old and rare bottles over the past two decades.

The Rangiora man says while the bottles primarily represent history they are also attractive.

Svensson's passion was sparked when he was about 10 years old by his brother-in-law who also collected bottles and the hobby soon spread through the family.

Now, with a private museum collection of more than 500 bottles on display, by appointment, in a 40 foot shipping container, Svensson is particularly eager to get his hands on more Temuka Brewery bottles from the early 1900s, made of stone. Continue reading here.