COVID-19 In Canterbury – Case Numbers Continue To Top More Than 1000 A Day



Cantabrians are asked to remain vigilant and continue to keep up their healthy habits as new COVID-19 cases in the region continue to top more than 1000 per day.

Canterbury Health System Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) Incident Controller, Jo Domigan, says that ongoing demand for health services, along with the sustained high number of active COVID-19 cases in the region and a continued high rate of staff absence due to illness and COVID-19 are putting huge demand on the system. We currently have 67 people in our hospitals with COVID-19.

“The move to the Orange traffic light setting and the relaxation of some COVID-19 rules, along with Canterbury’s case numbers peaking some weeks ago, may have created a false sense of complacency.

“COVID-19 remains prevalent in our community and the Omicron outbreak is not over.

“We were planning to start a gradual increase in planned care such as elective surgery next week. However, we regret that we are once again having to defer more surgeries and appointments as the long tail of COVID-19 continues to place pressure on our services. We apologize to those affected that we are having to take this step. ”

“We will review the situation again next week and hope to resume more planned care the following week (commencing 23 May).

“These decisions are not taken lightly, and our teams are hugely disappointed and dismayed to still be in this situation of not being able to resume planned care.

“We work as an integrated health system in Canterbury, and plan to utilize any spare private sector theater capacity to allow more surgery and procedures to be provided over the coming months.”

From next week Canterbury DHB will swap from an ECC to operate a System Wide Operations Center (SWOC) which will be led by a small team who will continue to link in daily with partners from throughout the health system to support our integrated response.

As we get closer to winter, we expect to see an increase in acute demand due to respiratory illnesses, including the flu and RSV.

“There’s no doubt winter this year will be a challenging time for our people and our wider health system. When we experience sustained high levels of acute demand and need to admit more people to our hospitals this has a direct impact on the amount of planned care such as surgery and procedures we can provide.

“Unfortunately for our community the cumulative impact of COVID-19, including lock-downs and high levels of staff illness as well as industrial action all impact on our ability to provide the level of planned care we would like to.”

Your general practice or healthcare provider should be your first port of call if your health issue is not an emergency. Please plan ahead as much as possible for your routine health care, and book early. Your usual healthcare provider will offer some urgent appointments when required.

If after hours care is needed people are encouraged to phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice 24/7 or visit one of the Urgent Care centers in Canterbury. If people come to ED with something that could be treated by a GP or with advice from a pharmacist they may be advised of alternative options. People with non-emergency conditions are likely to experience a long wait to be seen in ED as we need to triage everyone presenting to ensure those in the greatest need, with life-threatening conditions are seen first.

“We need to keep the Emergency Department for emergencies,” says Jo.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important that people keep up the healthy habits:

  • Wearing masks in all indoor settings
  • Maintaining physical distancing
  • Opening windows and doors to increase ventilation wherever possible
  • Practicing good hygiene by regularly and thoroughly washing or sanitizing your hands
  • Staying home if you’re unwell
  • Taking a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you are a close household contact of a positive case
  • Reporting your test results on My COVID Record (https://mycovidrecord.health.nz/)
  • Ensuring all your immunizations are up to date – including your flu immunization and COVID-19 booster.

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