Covid-19 surge: Christchurch Hospital coping as region’s infections outstrip Auckland


Canterbury has almost three times the rate of new Covid-19 infections as Auckland, as the outbreak shifts south.

Christchurch Hospital Waipapa.

Christchurch Hospital’s emergency department is not seeing the big surge in patients that Auckland’s EDs experienced. Photo: Supplied

There were 2816 new cases recorded in the region yesterday, with Auckland recording 2899 meaning Canterbury has a much higher rate of infection.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said that meant the rate of infection was now 480 per 100,000 in Canterbury and 167 per 100,000 in Auckland.

Despite that, Christchurch Hospital’s emergency department said it was not seeing the big surge in patients that Auckland’s EDs experienced.

Clinical director Mark Gilbert said that was probably largely due to high vaccination rates and a “stellar” job by GPs in the community.

The ED had been busy but patient volumes had been about the same, he said.

The extra pressures came from Covid-19 processes that meant people were often staying longer than usual, and from staff who were away because of the virus.

Nurse absences at the DHB had been as high as 15 percent.

But Gilbert said in the emergency department they had been just six percent and were now as low as 3 percent.

Dental therapists and redeployed MIQ nurses had helped to lessen the impact, with the therapists helping with non-medical tasks, he said.

Junior doctors had stepped up to take on extra shifts.

“There have been some staff challenges, perhaps not as great as Auckland, but I think the call to arms has been really well responded to,” he said.

The DHB’s chief executive, Peter Bramley, said this week community cases have most likely peaked but hospital admissions would probably climb into next week.

Dr Gilbert said the emergency department had been a bit busier in the past couple of days but he was not expecting a big surge.

“We think we’ve got matters in hand but obviously it’s difficult to look into the future,” he said.

Even past the peak there would be a long tail to the outbreak and Covid-19 would be in the region this winter, he said.

Canterbury is nearly 98.7 percent fully-vaxxed, the highest rate in the country, and is 75.9 percent boosted, the fourth highest rate.

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