Thursday, December 9

DHB Southern Plans for Covid-19

First published on Otago Daily Times

By Mike houlahan

Doctors are planning the worst Covid-19 case in which about 900 cases are reported a week in Otago and Southland and 40 people are in hospital.

Mobile vaccination clinic in the Octagon, Dunedin.

A mobile vaccination clinic set up in the Dunedin Octagon. (file photo)
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Full details of how the Southern District Board of Health is preparing to handle if the pandemic disease becomes endemic in the region will be released at a board meeting on Tuesday.

However, preliminary details are on the board’s agenda and make for sobering reading.

Chris Fleming, Executive Director of the Southern District Board of Health

Chris fleming
Photo: Supplied / Southern DHB

“We will live with Covid within our community (and) it is vital that we move quickly in preparing to live with Covid in the southern region,” said board executive director Chris Fleming.

“The figures are worrying and we must plan for the worst case scenario.”

The model, developed by SDHB’s acting executive director of clinical governance and quality solutions, Dr. Hywel Lloyd, suggested that southern hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed with cases if the worst projections of 40 hospitalizations and four patients needing intensive care, Fleming said.

“Given the average length of stay of hospitalized patients, this would indicate a hospital occupancy between two and three times this level.”

Primary care providers are expected to see at least 95 percent of all cases in the community, and those services would be critical for the South to handle Covid-19, Fleming said.

“It is therefore vital that while robust hospital plans must be implemented, primary and community settings, transportation arrangements and psychosocial / wellness arrangements are of vital importance.”

There has not been a community case of Covid-19 in the south since last year, but now four positive cases have been diagnosed in Christchurch.

On Thursday, sections of the Macraes mine in East Otago were closed for deep cleaning after a contractor on the site was notified that his partner was a close contact.

Yesterday the Ministry of Health reported 125 community cases, 118 in Auckland, four in Waikato, one in Northland and two in Christchurch.

Last week, Dr. Lloyd said that the SDHB model was based on an outbreak that caused between 300 and 400 community cases. The new SDHB model was based on the details of the new government-planned Covid-19 management traffic light system and the latest vaccination rates from Otago and Southland.

Fleming said the drive to vaccinate as many people as possible should stop at nothing.

“ Despite our surprising results, Maori, Pacific Islanders and the lower socioeconomic parts of our society continue to lag behind. ”

The SDHB would establish a steering and governance group to manage the next stage of managing the pandemic, Fleming said.

” This is the biggest risk for our organization and our community.

“If the pandemic is not managed effectively, the health system will come under increasing pressure and access to planned care will be jeopardized.”

This story was first published in the Otago Daily Times

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