Change to Northland DHB visitor policy due to increase in children’s respiratory illness | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Change to Northland DHB visitor policy due to increase in children’s respiratory illness

Media Release

7 July, 2021

A sudden increase in respiratory illness in children has led to Northland DHB changing the visitor policy for Te Kotuku (maternity), the Special Baby Care Unit and the Children’s Ward (Ward 2) at Whangārei Hospital.

The illness is caused by a respiratory virus that is common at this time of year, and is highly contagious. It mostly impacts babies under one year of age and can cause breathing difficulties in small children.

Northland DHB said that the policy change aims to keep children in their care safe, as well as their siblings and young whanāu, by reducing the risk of them being exposed to the virus.

Symptoms may include cough, fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. In infants, the virus can cause serious illness including bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Dr Ailsa Tuck, paediatrician at Whangārei Hospital, said that the virus is common and most children will recover on their own, but parents should seek medical advice if they are concerned.

Parents should call their GP, or call Healthline for free on 0800 611 116 at any time to talk to a health professional. 

She said that there are some basic things that parents can do to keep their children well, and to stop the spread of the respiratory viruses. 

“Washing hands well and often, covering sneezes or coughs, and keeping your tamariki home if they are unwell, can all make a difference.”

Dr Tuck also said it is important for children to be immunised as protection against many other preventable illnesses, such as measles, whooping cough, pneumococcal and others. Immunisation is free at your General Practice. 

The new visitor policy is effective from Thursday 8 July and applies to visitors to Whangārei Hospital’s Te Kotuku (maternity), Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and the Children’s Ward (Ward 2):

  • Both parents or primary caregivers can be present during the day
  • One parent or primary caregivers can stay overnight
  • No other visitors are allowed, including siblings.

Further information can be found at



For further information, please contact:

Liz Inch, Communications Manager

Phone 09 4304101 extn 60518 

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