17 Mar 2022

Five wards at Middlemore Hospital dedicated to Covid-19 patients

2:05 pm on 17 March 2022

Five wards at Middlemore Hospital are now dedicated to Covid-19 patients, with one-third of hospital admissions clearly having Covid as their reason for admission.

Northern Region Health Coordination Centre chief clinical officer Dr Andrew Old and Middlemore Hospital's Emergency Department clinical director, Dr Vanessa Thornton, have given an update on daily case numbers, hospitalisations, and protecting those most at risk.

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Dr Old said authorities are hopeful hospitalisations may turn a corner in the next week.

He said an initial review of hospital admissions had found one third of those clearly had Covid-19 as their reason for admission.

"A further third have Covid as a secondary finding, while a quarter were diagnosed with Covid during their admission and at the time of review, the contribution was unclear."

Middlemore Hospital's Emergency Department clinical director Dr Vanessa Thornton said the hospital had five wards dedicated to Covid-19 patients.

The deferral of other clinics had allowed staff to be deployed elsewhere in the hospital to keep people safe, she said.

"We are seeing more medically vulnerable people in the ED and often it is the underlying conditions that are having the greatest impact and causing the need for hospitalisation.

"Some of the prevalent conditions are diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease.

"Covid seeks and finds the unvaccinated, so please continue to get your vaccinations ... and booster shots."

Dr Old said the results of tests continued to direct actions people can take to support their communities and where the country is in the outbreak.

Reporting RAT results was most important for positive results, but negative results also needed to be recorded, he said.

"Put simply, this provides vital information about where we are at in the outbreak by helping us know how widespread testing is.

"If we have an indication of how many people are negative, we can work out the trends of the virus and the care that might be needed into the future."

While it was great to see cases in Auckland declining, "we are not out of the woods yet", Dr Old said.

With winter on the way, he urged people to get flu vaccinations if eligible - as well as Covid-19 vaccinations.

Dr Thornton said there were some whose stay in hospital was longer - including seven to 10 day stays.

The hospital has not got any Covid-19 positive staff at work despite being able to do so. About 10 percent of nurses, orderly and clerks were off work, Dr Thornton said. It was up to about 15 percent at one point.

Dr Old said the fact that the population is close to 100 percent vaccinated was helping to bring cases down in Auckland.

"A really highly vaccinated population really puts us in a good situation as we move into the rest of the year.

"I think what we've seen with Omicron, there possibly is an element of complacency, which is why it is really important for people to maintain other protections - continuing to wear a mask, being aware of symptoms."

Yesterday, the government announced New Zealand's borders will be open to vaccinated Australians from 11.59 pm on 12 April and fully vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries will be able to enter the country from 11.59pm on 1 May.

There were 10 deaths and 19,566 new community cases reported today, while 930 people are in hospital - 23 in ICU.

3D rendering, coronavirus cells covid-19 influenza flowing on gradient background as dangerous flu strain cases as a pandemic medical health risk concept of disease cells risk

Photo: 123RF

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