Prepared for the pandemic

Clutha Health First chief executive Ray Anton. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

Covid›19 is established in Otago›Southland, as case numbers rise in homes, schools and workplaces.

Although the global pandemic has arrived in the form of the comparatively mild Omicron variant, local medical services continue to urge caution.

In a statement, Clutha Health First chief executive Ray Anton said the district’s main medical centre was well prepared, and sounded a note of optimism, while remaining vigilant.

‘‘We have been preparing for Covid›19 for almost two years. Our experienced team has strong operational and infection prevention and control protocols in place.

‘‘We are doing everything possible to manage the safety of our patients and workforce during the outbreak while keeping our health centre and hospital running as normal.

‘‘While services on site and in the community continue, their delivery may have changed. General practice has introduced telehealth appointments where patients are contacted by telephone, with other services delivering care in the patient’s home rather than on site.’’ Mr Anton said for at›risk patients such as those on chemotherapy, the health centre had processes in place to test for Covid›19, enabling nursing staff to ensure they remained able to continue their treatment.

Similar processes for pre› admission Covid›19 testing would keep patients booked for surgery or invasive procedures safe while at Dunedin or Southland Hospitals, he said.

‘‘For patients who may have caught Covid›19, the general practice has a large team of professionals able to check in daily to ensure you are recovering well and have the support to isolate at home.’’

The numbers locally and across the southern region more generally paint a picture of asteady spread of the Omicron variant.

At the time of writing, 46% of South Otago High School years 12 and 13 pupils were recorded as absent from school.

The Southern DHB region had 8969 Covid›19 reported cases, of which 1243 were recorded on March 17.

Covid patients in SDHB hospitals numbered 16.

In the Clutha district, 515 patients were Covid positive.

CHF statistics showed 270 patients isolating at home, of whom 134 were low dependency and 136 high dependency.

High dependency cases receive daily monitoring from CHF due to factors such as age and pre›existing conditions.

CHF does not admit Covid›19 positive patients at present, and any serious local cases are transported to Dunedin Hospital.

On Friday, SDHB acting quality and clinical governance solutions director Dr Hywel Lloyd estimated peak cases in the South were about a week away, and University of Canterbury Covid›19 modeller Michael Plank estimated the peak would bring about 1500 new cases a day.