‘It’s still going to be messy’ warning as NZ hospital covid cases climb

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield ... a reminder that booster vaccine shots are the best protection people could get. Image: RNZ screenshot APR

RNZ News

New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Royal NZ College of General Practitioners president Dr Samantha Murton gave a briefing today on the government’s response to the omicron outbreak as hospital cases continue to climb.

The daily number of new community cases has dropped slightly today to 21,015 community cases, but the number of people in hospital with the coronavirus continues to rise, reaching 773.

There are now more people in hospital with covid-19 than at any other point over the past two years, the Ministry of Health said.

There are 16 people in intensive care, with one new death reported today.

While the ministry initially said there were 845 people in hospital, it revised that number this afternoon to 773.

Today’s numbers are down compared to yesterday’s 22,454 and 742 hospitalisations, with a record 19 cases in ICU.

Speaking at today’s briefing, Dr Murton said 80 percent of GPs were now looking after more than 20 patients.

“It has put a huge amount of work on general practice. When you think about the fact that there are 20,000 people who have got covid every day and across the country 50,000 consultations normally happen every day, that’s a 50 percent increase in workload if we had to deal with every one of those 20,000 that came through,” she said.

‘Huge amount of work’
“It has put a huge amount of work on general practice. When you think about the fact that there are 20,000 people who have got covid every day and across the country 50,000 consultations normally happen every day, that’s a 50 percent increase in workload if we had to deal with every one of those 20,000 that came through,” she said.

“My colleagues want me to remind everyone that we are working really hard, doing our best for our patients and although we are prepared and have done the best we can do for when the outbreak occurred, it is still going to be a little bit messy for the next couple of weeks.”

Watch the media briefing

Video: RNZ News

She said that was because there were people who wanted care and then people who needed care and were “quite vulnerable”.

Those vulnerable people will be the ones GPs are focusing on, she said.

“The other thing we have found is that across the country, people are stressed.

“People are stressed about having covid, people are stressed about being isolated, about not being able to go out, about having family members who might be sick and the practices are under pressure to provide as much care as they can and so that stress can often end up with a lot of anxiety and peoples’ emotions might flare, to put it politely.

“My colleagues have suggested people be kind to their providers.

‘Have a bit of patience’
“Please have a bit of patience as patients.”

She also put out a reminder that booster vaccine shots were the best protection people could get.

Auckland hospitals have reported that they are dealing with far more covid-19 cases than even their worst case scenarios predicted, with daily case numbers as high as 533 across the city’s hospitals this week.

In Wellington, frontline care workers are operating around the clock to help the more than 17,000 people across the region who are isolating at home and in need of some level of assistance.

Canterbury District Health Board is already teetering on patient capacity, three weeks away from an expected peak of covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced that the isolation period for covid-19 cases and their household contacts is reducing to one week, down from 10 days, from tomorrow.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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