Gisborne Hospital has fewer than half its usual patients, with all but urgent care services on hold.
Just 37 percent of the hospital's 108 beds were occupied on Thursday morning.
Elective care has been scaled back to ensure the hospital can cater for a potential influx of Covid-19 patients.
Clinical staff were ensuring people in need of urgent hospital care were being seen and treated, Hauora Tairāwhiti DHB chief executive Jim Green said.
"Normally at this time of the year we would be closer to 80 percent," Mr Green said.
As well as fewer elective patients, the pop-up assessment centre at War Memorial Theatre, where people with respiratory symptoms were being referred, had taken pressure off hospital services, he said.
The Covid-19 lockdown was also helping to reduce the number of people needing hospital care, as it was controlling the spread of other respiratory illnesses including the flu.
However, Green reiterated the importance of getting a flu shot this year, especially for pensioners, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.
"If you fall into one of those categories and have not yet been vaccinated then please contact your general practice and make sure you get the vaccination," he said.
"It won't prevent you getting Covid-19 but it will help keep you well, lower your risk of complications from influenza and reduce demand on hospital services."
Despite the current rationing of healthcare, Green said people should not hesitate to seek urgent care via their general practice, the emergency department or by ringing 111.
"Please remember the health system is safe for people to access right now because it is set up to carefully stream people with respiratory conditions away from the rest of the population."
Meanwhile, hospital visits remain severely restricted.
With few exceptions, hospital patients have not been allowed visitors since the Covid-19 lockdown came into force last week.
Director of nursing Serita Karauria said: "Everyone, except those delivering essential services, must stay home to save lives."
There were no standard exceptions to the rule, but patients receiving end-of-life care, children and women in labour may be allowed visitors, Ms Karauria said.
Such visits needed the prior approval of ward managers, who could be contacted on 06 869 0500.
The DHB is yet to confirm whether patients who cannot have visitors are being supported to stay in touch with loved ones.
Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.