Health authority bumps up briefings as Covid bites again

by Kim Bowden - Jul 15, 2022

Covid-19 cases are on the rise and Southerners need to realise having the virus once won't prevent a second bout.

That's the word from the Southern health authority today, as it reinstates it's regular updates on Covid-19 cases in local communities.

In a statement, Te Whatu Ora Southern says Covid-19 and health system updates will once again be released every Tuesday and Friday, and as required, given the increase in Covid-19 cases and the prevalence of influenza and other seasonal illness throughout the district.

"Covid-19 cases in Southern have increased considerably in the last two weeks alongside the added burden of influenza infection and winter illnesses," the statement says.

Medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack says case numbers in the region are about the same as they were back in March, and wastewater testing reveals that potentially more than half of people with Covid-19 in the South are not reporting their infection.

"Please report your positive RAT result so that you can quickly be linked in with the appropriate care and support you need. Reporting your result also gives healthcare teams the information we need to plan and distribute resources where they are needed the most.”  

Coalface healthcare continues to be under significant pressure from high demand and significant numbers of staff off sick, and aged residential care facilities continue to have high numbers of staff and residents infected with the virus, she says.  

Executive director of quality and clinical governance Dr Hywel Lloyd says hospitals in the South are already seeing an increase in hospital occupancy. 

“Our rising case numbers suggests New Zealand is at the beginning of a second Covid-19 wave and modelling suggests that hospital admissions could be higher than the first, with the more transmissible BA.5 variant quickly becoming the dominant strain in the community.
 
“For Southern, the biggest jump in cases is amongst those aged 45 and over. That in turn has led to an increase in hospital occupancy. Currently the average age of people in hospital across the Southern district is 74 years old."

Dunedin and Southland Hospital Covid-19 wards are frequently reaching capacity and, although there are overflow plans in place, high levels of staff absence due to illness, isolation requirements and vacancies means staffing constraints are putting increased pressure on the health system, the statement says.

Southern interim district director Hamish Brown says local health staff are "doing an incredible job under difficult circumstances".

 

The health authority says people need to understand they can get Covid-19 more than once - Many people throughout the South and Aotearoa are now discovering this, it says.

The health authority is reminding people of basic precautions - hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing, among them - that should be taken to promote public health. 

"It is not too late to get your Covid-19 booster. Apart from mask wearing, a Covid-19 booster dose is your best form of defence against severe Covid-19 infection," it says in its statement.

"It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to build full protection against Covid-19, so the time to act is now."

In an attempt to ease pressure on the health system and health workers, the government yesterday announced additional measures to be rolled out to help tackle the second Covid-19 wave and record levels of flu infection.

These include increasing access to antiviral medication for those most likely to end up in hospital, making free masks and RATs more widely available, and doing another push to lift uptake of flu and Covid-19 vaccines, including the second booster. 

Current hospitalisations as at 9am, July 15, 2022   

Hospital  

Inpatient  

ICU/HDU  

Ventilated  

Total  

  

  

  

  

  

Dunedin  

21  

21  

Southland  

23  

23  

Gore 

Waitaki  

Dunstan  

Please note that hospitalisation data does not differentiate between patients admitted because of Covid-19 infection versus those admitted for a separate reason who happen to also have Covid-19 (incidental COVID-19 infection).  

The Ministry of Health total figures for Southern for the previous 24 hours are:  

  • 895 new positive cases   
  • 5529 (not recovered from last 7 days)   

Current cases as of 11.59pm, July 14, 2022   

Territorial Authority  

New – Positive (PCR & RAT)  

Active Cases  

  

  

  

Central Otago  

84  

424  

Clutha  

28  

193  

Dunedin  

440  

2757  

Gore  

15  

119  

Invercargill  

85  

577  

Queenstown-Lakes  

134  

816  

Southland  

58  

335  

Waitaki  

51  

308  

Unknown  

<5  

<5  

Please note, the Ministry of Health’s daily reported cases may differ slightly from those reported at a DHB or local public health unit level. This is because of different reporting cut off times and the assignment of cases between regions, for example when a case is tested outside their usual region of residence. Total numbers will always be the formal daily case tally as reported to the WHO. Due to the increased use of RATs and system lag issues there may be a discrepancy in the number of total active cases from the territorial authority breakdown.  

A decision has been made nationally that areas with less than 5 new cases per 24-hour period will be reported as “<5”. All territorial authorities with less than 100 cases will have their case numbers rounded to the nearest 5. We are unable to supply further information. Please contact the Ministry of Health directly for more information about these decisions.   

Covid-19 in the South - what you need to know:

  • Testing locations and hours of operation can be found on the WellSouth website.  
  • For help accessing Covid-19 testing in the Southern region and to find your nearest testing center please call the WellSouth call center on 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719).   
  • If you have any questions about Covid-19, self-isolation, or what you need to do if you test positive, please call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.  
  • If you are self-isolating and require welfare support such as help getting groceries, please call 0800 512 337 Monday-Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday/Sunday/Public Holidays 8am-1pm.  
  •  If you have concerns about COVID-19 symptoms, please call your general practice or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 at any time. If you are very unwell or having breathing difficulties, please call 111 immediately.  

  

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