Doctors are preparing to support people isolating at home when Omicron gets into our community.
New modelling shows Auckland could have 1500 to 1800 daily Omicron cases within weeks of an outbreak, but some warn the numbers could be even higher.
General Practice NZ chair Dr Jeff Lowe said it is anticipated that many people will be able to recover at home.
“We know that if people are not too unwell they can probably quite successfully work from home – and that includes the GP workforce.
“So we’re encouraging general practices to make sure they’re ready to be able to work virtually from home, and continue to work from home using the technology that’s available.”
The World Health Organisation has said the Omicron strain appears to lead to less hospitalisations compared to Delta, and is less severe in the elderly and very young. But it warned the variant is not mild.
Lowe said the best defence against Covid-19, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant, is to have three doses of the vaccine.
Auckland Pacific-focused health provider The Fono said they were preparing to offer a range of help to whānau isolating at home, from health support from nurses to a welfare team providing food.
The Fono chief operating officer Sally Dalhousie said they have been training staff to pivot into different roles and provide surge support.
“We’re looking at being able to redeploy a lot of our social work staff, a lot of our public health team.
“We’re fortunate we’ve got about 50 people who we can send out into the community to provide that additional support across all of Auckland when and as needed.”
The Fono will provide a drive through vaccination clinic in Westgate, and is adding capacity to PCR testing stations.
Households warned to prepare to stay at home
The prime minister has warned New Zealanders to prepare what they might need if they get Omicron and have to isolate or become unwell.
Supermarkets have begun stockpiling to meet demand and have urged customers to shop responsibly when buying extra items in preparation.
Shelves in Australian stores have been emptied by frenzied shopping in the midst of the outbreak there.
New Zealand authorities are encouraging people to have enough supplies to last them a week or two.
Countdown spokesperson Kiri Hannifin asked people to be sensible and just buy what they need.
“If you’re getting a couple of cans of tinned tomatoes and maybe pick up another one … there is no need to buy six cans or five packets of toilet paper.”
Hannifin reminded shoppers to wear a mask and be kind to staff.