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Checklist helps farmers be Covid-19 prepared

file photo/SunLive.

As Covid-19 vaccination rates build and New Zealand begins to transition to coping with the disease without lockdowns and less reliance on managed isolation facilities, the agri-sector and Ministry for Primary Industries have been working together to ensure farmers are prepared.

The latest initiative is a checklist for farmers so that they can tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal wellbeing, and everything a neighbour or someone else coming onto the farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital – right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located.

The checklist is available on the Federated Farmers website and from the other groups that helped put it together: DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Pork, Deer Industry NZ, Poultry Industry Association of NZ and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ.

"It’s only a matter of time before we get more positive cases of Covid-19 turning up on farms," Federated Farmers national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

"Distance from health and other facilities, workforce shortages and the need to continue to look after animals and crops raise all sorts of complications.

"As DHB Medical Officers of Health will be making the decision on whether it’s practicable for a farmer or key farm staff member to self-isolate on the farm, evidence of pre-planning and preparedness will be an important factor," Chris says.

In a Federated Farmers-hosted webinar Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Butchard emphasised being double-jabbed was the "very best defence" if a farmer or key team member who tests positive sought to self-isolate on farm.

Vaccination rates of people on the farm would weigh heavily on MOHs as they made the "case by case" decisions on how and where isolation would happen if someone tested positive.

Immunologist and Otago University Associate Professor James Ussher told the webinar a double-vaccinated person had a 75-80 per cent lower chance of being infected with the virus.

"If you don’t get infected, you can’t pass it on to other people. So it’s about protecting yourself and protecting others."

The checklist can be downloaded from the Federated Farmers website: https://www.fedfarm.org.nz/

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