Hawke’s Bay District Health Board is urging people to take steps to ensure they can deal with minor ailments at home to alleviate stress on health providers as COVID-19 and increasing cases of influenza put pressure on the Emergency Department and hospital services.
There are currently 20 people in Hawke’s Bay Hospital with COVID-19 and 10 people with influenza.
DHB staff and community healthcare staff were also affected by illness, exacerbating waiting times and the ability to resource health centres safely. City Medical in Napier was closed Sunday night due to staff illness and again on Monday during the day, due to illness impacting already critical staffing levels.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Nick Jones said while COVID community cases were lower than previous months, the virus was still circulating in the community with 133 new cases reported in Hawke’s Bay today.
“Ten people have also been admitted to hospital with Influenza A – with two people having needed ICU level care in the past week.”
Dr Jones said most people with either COVID-19, influenza or other respiratory illnesses would be able to manage at home by resting, keeping up their fluids and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen.
“Good habits like washing our hands and wearing a face mask indoors can help to reduce further spread of the virus in the community.”
Dr Jones said vaccination against both COVID-19 and Influenza remains the best defence against serious illness for both adults and children and that this winter could see high levels of flu cases if people do not get vaccinated.
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Chief Operating Officer Chris Ash said that while people with serious illness and injuries should always seek assistance, the hospital was seeing a large increase in the number of respiratory illness presentations which was creating long wait times.
Mr Ash urged people to seek advice about their health care early through a variety of ways to avoid minor health issues presenting to ED, and more urgent situations becoming an emergency.
“If it’s not an emergency, call Healthline on 0800 611 116, your pharmacy or your GP. We encourage people to use the hospital’s emergency department for emergencies only, as priority will always be given to those with life-threatening conditions,” Mr Ash said.
Dr Jones said people should take a COVID-19 test if they had cold or flu-like symptoms, especially if they were a household contact of a positive case. People can order RAT kits through the website https://requestrats.covid19.health.nz/
“Make sure to record your test result at https://mycovidrecord.health.nz/ to ensure you are provided with the necessary health and welfare supports.”
Dr Jones said if people become more unwell, it’s important to seek help and if it is an emergency to call 111.
People should see a doctor immediately if they have:
- difficulty breathing or chest pain
- a high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol or ibuprofen
- chills or severe shaking
- abnormal skin colour, is blue, or has a purple spotty rash
- seizures or convulsions
- is coughing up blood
- or has stopped passing urine.
People needing mental health and wellbeing support should also seek help.
Free help is available by texting 1737 anytime of the day or night. You can also call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357. The DHB’s Emergency Mental Health service can also be contacted day or night on 0800 112 334.