Covid 19: Northland DHB planning an outbreak of Omicron

Whangārei Hospital has eight intensive care beds, but this can be increased to 10 if needed for any outbreak of Omicron in the area.

Northland health officials have set up a community coordination center in Whangārei to help deal with an expected outbreak of Omicron in the area.

Experts say it’s a matter of when, not if, Omicron reaches Northland, with the Covid variant spreading like wildfire around the world.

It is now the most common variant of Covid worldwide, and cases have been confirmed at MIQ in New Zealand, with at least one suspected case in the community.

Tracey Schiebli, Northland DHB Covid-19 Incident Controller, said national and regional planning is well advanced to prepare for a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Whangārei Hospital has eight intensive care beds, but this can be increased to 10 if needed for any outbreak of Omicron in the area.

Modeling by the NDHB late last year showed there could be between 230 and 880 active cases in the community – and up to 95 cases per day – with up to 70 cases requiring hospital care.

“The main priorities of the NDHB are to help our population isolate and care for themselves at home, where necessary, and to ensure that those who need a higher standard of care can access them in a timely manner,” Schiebli said.

“With Omicron quickly becoming the dominant variant in much of the world, we know we have a short window to prepare and plan.”

She said last month that a collective interim Covid in community support center had been set up as part of Te Tai Tokerau’s Covid-19 community response. It will provide support to community centers being established and will be led by Iwi and Maori health providers.

The hub is a four-bedroom NDHB house on Hospital Rd, Whangārei, where teams from DHB’s Covid-19 Response Team, Northland Family Harm Police, Department of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki and care staff Primary will work together to prepare for and manage further outbreaks of Covid-19 in the community.

Additionally, Inspector Chris McLellan has been seconded from the police to the NDDB to assist with community response.

“In two or three months, no matter where you live in Northland, if you get sick, you’ll be well supported, clinically and in a manaaki sense. We’re working to equip people to look after themselves. themselves at home with the support of their health care provider,” she said.

NDHB rural hospital medicine specialist Dr Sarah Clarke said while the center would include clinical expertise, it would be more about providing manaaki and support to the community to keep everyone safe.

“We’ve come to the end of a race, and now we’re at the start of a marathon,” Dr Clarke said, of the impending Covid cases.

Northland DHB representatives, police.  organizations iwi, MSD, Oranga Tamariki and others at the opening of the community coordination center in Whangārei, set up to deal with any outbreak of Omicron.
Northland DHB representatives, police. organizations iwi, MSD, Oranga Tamariki and others at the opening of the community coordination center in Whangārei, set up to deal with any outbreak of Omicron.

Schiebli said the planning includes a phased response as the number of cases increases and support for health sector personnel to be able to provide care to residents of Northland.

”Important work has been done to prepare for the admission of patients to our hospitals with Covid-19. This includes capital and equipment requirements to ensure that red and green zones can be safely maintained across our four hospitals.


”Manpower needs have been established, with plans to reduce services if necessary, to ensure that staff can be prioritized in areas that need them most.

“Omicron will ask us to revisit some of our approaches as it becomes more
widespread in the community, including among our own staff. Based on overseas experience, we anticipate that our emergency department will see a high number of Covid presentations, around half of which will potentially require hospitalization. ”

She said the best mitigation against Northland’s hospital overflow is a strong community care model.

“The low vaccination rate in Northland is concerning and we are actively promoting that all eligible people in Northland are vaccinated,” she said.

As of yesterday, 86% of the eligible Northland population, 77% of Maori and 92% of Pacific people had been double vaccinated. In addition, 89% of the eligible population, 84% of Maori and 97% of Pacific people received at least one dose.

She said that for many, especially those who are fully vaccinated, Omicron will be mild or asymptomatic.

”To prepare you to enter our community, we have provided information on our website and social media on how to manage and care for you and your whānau, should you become infected with Omicron without having to access to our overburdened health services.

”We know that Omicron is less serious but much more contagious. The science is very clear that getting the Covid-19 booster decreases the rate and severity of infection. We encourage everyone who is eligible to get it as soon as they can, as it will most certainly help to further protect you and your whānau. ”

There is no need to book a booster at the four NDHB vaccination clinics in Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Whangārei and Dargaville. However, from yesterday people can book online through or by calling 0800 282926. Yesterday also marked the start of the rollout of the vaccine for 5-11 year olds.

So far, more than 24,000 booster doses have been given in Northland.

For more information on how to prepare or to find details of vaccination and testing clinics near you, visit –

No new cases of Covid 19 were reported in Northland yesterday.

NDHB advice for Omicron when it hits the Northland community and for self-isolation:

Prepare your home for Omicron
Make a plan that includes:
Essential supplies on hand so you don’t have to leave your home if you get sick.
Avoid panic buying. Add a few extra items each time you shop.
Don’t forget to refill your prescription medications.
Alternate arrangements in case you become ill or need to care for a sick family member.
For example, have backup childcare in case you or your regular caregiver becomes ill
If you are caring for dependents, have a backup caregiver in place.
If you must self-isolate away from home, have a rescue person feed/exercise/care for your animals.
Talk to your employer about working from home if possible.

Have your contacts ready including; healthcare, your doctor, your pharmacy, Healthline, your support network of family, friends, neighbours, school, work.

Prepare cleaning instructions:
Make a household instruction list of things you usually do but cannot do during isolation, such as feeding pets, paying bills, watering plants, instructions on how to use things.

Share your plan with your family, friends and neighbors.
Set up a buddy system to connect with each other by phone, email or text when needed.

Protect yourself and others from Covid-19:
Get vaccinated, stay home if you’re sick, get tested if you have symptoms of Covid-19 even if mild, keep track of where you’ve been, wear a face mask , maintain good hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing.

Shopping checklist:
Food: dried pasta and rice, pasta sauces, canned soups, vegetables and beans, pet food and supplies, food, infant formula and beverages for babies and young children, powdered or shelf stable milk, baked goods.

Hygiene: Toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, diapers and wipes, tissues, soap, shampoo and conditioner, alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Health care: Common medicines, thermometer, fever medicines (eg paracetomol/ibuprofen), throat lozenges, medical masks, rubber household gloves, handkerchiefs, heating and cooling pads.

Cleaning: Paper towels, plastic trash bags, laundry detergent, common household cleaners, hard-surface disinfectant or, failing that, concentrated liquid bleach (5%) and a separate container for dilution.

Prepare to be home.
Puzzles, books, magazines, cards/games, podcasts, soothing music, TV/Netflix, coloring and other activities for children, radio, community and daily newspapers, batteries, outdoor activities for your yard, house projects to keep busy adults, coloring and other activities for children.

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