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Thousands call helplines after quakes: MoH

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016

A small increase has been recorded in the number of people accessing mental and public health phone lines after the devastating Kaikoura earthquake, according to the Ministry of Health.

Increased numbers of calls are coming from Christchurch and Wellington.

It's not surprising calls are coming from outside Hurunui and Kaikoura because of a lack of phone service in those heavily affected areas, MoH's Dr Stewart Jessamine says.

All up there have been 18,779 calls to MoH hotlines since the earthquake. That's a five per cent increase on the number of calls in the 10 days before the quake.

"There's been a small increase, a big increase in the middle but they are largely coping," he said of people.

Dr Jessamine has encourage people to "get out and talk" to family, whanau and friends as well as seeking support from helplines.

There are also no increased reports of gastro outbreaks as a result of sewage systems being out of operation, he revealed.

"Good news is that those messages around hand hygiene and boiled water notices and sanitiser are doing their job and we haven't got any significant increase in the number of cases of diarrhoea or vomiting," he said.

But he warned as water starts becoming available again in quake affected areas, the sewage system will still be out of action and household toilets should not be used.

More than 900 chemical toilets have been delivered throughout the region and are expected to be in use for "some time", he said.

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