There are now 405 hospitalized COVID patients, including 10 in intensive care or high dependency. But this figure is expected to double or even triple in the coming weeks.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins admits it will be a difficult month ahead, but says predicting the spike was “a crystal ball sighting”.
“I don’t know is probably the best guess, it could be in the next few weeks, it could be longer than that and what we also don’t know is how steep the mountain will be on either side” , Hipkins said. .
He says there is bed capacity but it is their staffing that is the problem.
At the busy Middlemore Hospital, around 13% of staff are absent, mostly due to COVID.
“It’s very difficult for the staff who stay at work with the workload,” said clinical director of the emergency department, Vanessa Thornton.
And it’s no wonder with more than a quarter of ED patients infected.
“On Monday, we looked at that data and about 27% of patients presenting to the emergency room were COVID-positive,” says Dr. Thornton.
With a third of the nation’s COVID patients, Middlemore is postponing elective surgery to free up more beds.
“We’re planning contingencies around the beds of another 60 COVID beds, two wards, hopefully that won’t exceed another 60, we’re almost at the top of the modelling,” says Dr Thornton.
And it’s not just Auckland that feels the pinch. Around 14% of clinical staff at Wellington Regional Hospital and 15% at Kenepuru Community Hospital were absent this week, while 25 staff at Canterbury DHB tested positive.
Vaccines and boosters help reduce hospitalizations, becoming our main defense against COVID as the government ends MIQ.
Hipkins thanked MIQ staff for their service and sent a message to Kiwis who have been separated from their whanau during the pandemic.
“Not long to wait now and haere mai, welcome home,” he said.