The Omicron outbreak is “still going very well” in Canterbury, with the number of cases remaining higher than expected, members of the Canterbury Board of Health have been told.
Chief executive Peter Bramley told Thursday’s board meeting that the number of cases has remained consistently high over the past three days, with around 1,700 to 1,800 notifications per day, creating enormous pressure on the system. health in the region.
There had been 1,702 notifications in the past 24 hours with 8,965 active cases in the region, he told members.
The number of cases had come down from a peak of 3,493 on March 21, but could take another two to three weeks to decline further, to levels now seen in Auckland, Bramley said.
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“[The pandemic] there’s really a lot going on.
On a positive note, Canterbury had managed to “flatten the curve” with a much reduced peak in hospitalizations. Health board modeling had estimated 100 hospitalizations a day at the height of the outbreak, but that hadn’t happened. Instead, hospitalizations hit a daily high of 64 people in late March.
Since then, hospitalizations had been reduced to 54 patients with Covid-19 infection identified on Thursday. It has been estimated that around half of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 were admitted with symptoms of Covid-19.
Aged care facilities have been hardest hit, with 65 of 92 nursing homes battling Covid-19 infections, Bramley said.
“It’s a healthcare system under pressure.”
Canterbury Board of Health staff have been redeployed as 20% of the aged care workforce and 15% of residents were infected or isolated.
Bramley said the region’s health system was also preparing for winter flu season – and a second wave of Covid-19.
“We’re not sure when that will be, but my pick is July-August.”
University of Otago epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker said Auckland appeared to be the only region in the country to have gone through a full pandemic wave, with cases rising rapidly to a peak and a slow decline over about six weeks.
But even in Auckland, the decline in cases has been slower than expected, with infections remaining at around 10-15% of peak numbers, Baker said.
Bramley said an emergency coordination center and restrictions on scheduled surgeries and appointments remained in place to manage the demand on the healthcare system.
To date, 17% of the population of the city of Christchurch, or 76,606 people, have reported having a Covid-19 infection.
Infection rates were higher for Pacific people (28%) and Maori (20%), compared to people of European descent (15%), Bramley said.
Omicron continued to affect staffing, with 260 health board staff “now off work due to Covid”.
Of these, 201 people have been infected and the rest are self-isolating due to household infection, Bramley said.
Although 99% of the population has been double vaccinated, only 75% have had a booster.
There were 112,000 people in Canterbury who were eligible for a recall, Bramley said.
Demand for ‘business as usual’ health services was also very high, with 352 people seeking care in the emergency department in the past 24 hours.
Despite a reduction in elective surgeries and appointments, the hospital remained very busy, with 526 occupied beds, Bramley said.
The health board had “significant” vacancies in key service areas, including nursing, allied health and midwifery, Bramley said.
Addressing a “growing deficit” of planned and elective care would be an ongoing challenge.
Bramley said planned care needed to be curtailed, mainly due to downsizing resulting from the pandemic, but that could not continue because the impact on community health would be too great.