CMO News 27 January 2022

Omicron is now in the community in various locations across Aotearoa and we expect the number of cases to rapidly increase in the next two to three weeks. Our modelling predicts a peak of up to 2,000 cases a day across the Northern region, and only time will tell if this is accurate. We do know Omicron will spread rapidly and for most people, who are fully vaccinated and have had their booster shot, they will be unwell with cold like symptoms and need time off work or school to isolate at home.

We urge everyone to follow the Ministry of Health advice and be diligent with handwashing, mask wearing and social distancing.

At Counties Manukau Health mask wearing has been mandatory in all public spaces since the Delta outbreak began, and staff who need them are fitted with N95 masks for additional protection. Material face coverings are no longer acceptable, and we are providing all visitors with medical face masks when they are inside our facilities.

As part of our preparedness for the community outbreak of Omicron we have improved our Emergency Department assessment area where patients are triaged when they arrive at Middlemore. We know from overseas for many people Omicron is a mild illness so when the numbers get to the peak levels, we anticipate sending people home who come to our Emergency Department with mild cold symptoms who are able to safely care for themselves at home.

Being prepared to manage at home with Omicron is important and something we have been encouraging people to do for several months. The Ministry of Health has published some guidelines and we encourage everyone to consider what they need to do to be prepared when they or a member of their household becomes unwell with COVID-19.

We are continuing to deliver all our usual surgical, outpatient and other health services so please attend your appointments and continue with your health treatment plan. This is important and we are working to ensure there is continuity in areas like elective surgery while COVID-19 in the community is manageable. We do expect Omicron to put pressure on the health system and we are planning that this will result in some disruption to non-urgent health services delivery.  

We are confident in our preparedness for when Omicron cases are high in our community. We’ve learnt so much from our experience with COVID-19 and the recent outbreaks overseas and we believe our communities will benefit from all of these lessons learnt to date.

Next week one of our respiratory ward upgrades will be completed to provide more capacity for infection control and patient care for those seriously ill with COVID-19 related illnesses. Our plans are in place to surge for Omicron cases who need hospital level care, our Emergency Department has increased its capacity for assessing patients who arrive at Middlemore, and our staff are fully vaccinated and following health orders for booster shots by mid-February.  

As we monitor the cases of Omicron in the community Middlemore Hospital, like others throughout Aotearoa, feels well prepared for what might eventuate. We do ask that our community follow the Ministry of Health advice and self-isolate if you become unwell with cold like symptoms, call your GP, Medical Centre or Healthline and follow their advice, and please if you are critical unwell come to hospital.

Manaaki to hauora. Keep safe and well.

Dr Pete Watson, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer
Counties Manukau Health

Posted in Latest news, Covid-19;

covid-19 Omicron inpatient visitor whanau ED

Less than a minute to read Communications Team

Last modified: