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New Zealand unprepared for COVID outbreak

Reports that New Zealand health authorities had begun to order refrigerated containers comes from concerns that morgues could soon be overrun in a predicted surge of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

New Zealand has escaped the pandemic relatively unscathed following only 31 official deaths across more than 18 months of the virus spreading worldwide.

The death tally ranks the 153rd worst out of a list of 155 nations per capita, according to one of the world’s leading providers of market and consumer data.

Only China and Burundi are placed better, Statista said.

But the false sense of security in the past from not having a serious outbreak has left a number of district health boards under-resourced from their over reliance on funeral services to store bodies.

Reefer containers that are temperature-controlled cargo containers that transport meat, seafood and fruits are essentially large industrial fridges placed on trucks and will be the contingency plan should New Zealand be forced to deal with an outbreak of Covid-19 deaths.

The industrial reefer containers that are reportedly being purchased by New Zealand district health authorities to store dead bodies for any possible future Covid-19 deaths. Picture: IRS Refrigeration.

Australia and New Zealand’s largest refrigeration container service confirmed to Radio New Zealand that district health boards have made inquiries.

“They bought them,” Glenn White, national IRS sales manager, said.

“We couldn’t reuse them if they’d had bodies inside.

“We couldn’t wash them down and put somebody’s food inside.”

The predictions appear grim for hospitals and primary care facilities.

New Zealand is recording its biggest Covid-19 rises in daily figures after 206 new infections were recorded on Saturday, of which 73 were taken to hospital and a further seven are in intensive care.

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University of Auckland epidemiology professor, Rod Jackson, believed that medical providers are in for a lot of stress.

“Nothing in New Zealand is prepared for an outbreak of Covid, a major outbreak,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the morgues, hospitals, (or) primary care.”

The scenario follows Papua New Guinea becoming overwhelmed by the sudden increase in Covid-19 deaths.

Its national pandemic response team was forced to undertake a mass burial of more than 200 bodies after a Port Moresby hospital morgue reached maximum capacity.

The facility reportedly was storing more than 300 bodies at time, at least five times the number it was supposed to contain.

PNG’s vaccination rate remains one of the lowest in the world at just 1.7 per cent.

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