Organise to deal with Omicron


Covid-19 has dominated our lives for what feels like a long time and it has had amassive impact on our community.

I believe as a community we have done an awesome job preparing for the onset of Covid-19 and increasing our vaccination rates across the district.

While we still have some way to go with the booster programme and 5 to 11-yearold vaccinations, we want to support and protect our community as much as possible while respecting those in our community who are unvaccinated.

It’s important we prepare ourselves for the occasion that we do have a community case of Covid-19.

The pathway for Covid-19 care in the community is evolving continuously.

Currently, when someone tests positive for Covid-19, Public Health will make contact and undertake a clinical and welfare assessment.

This will help determine your clinical care plan and there are two clinical categories.

If you are assessed as ‘‘category one’’, you are able to self-isolate safely in your home and will be monitored remotely by your doctor via video/phone contact on a regular basis.

Category two may require you to be transferred to Dunedin Hospital for care and when recovered, you need a transition plan to return home again.

If you are not enrolled with a doctor, you will be given a chance to enrol, or you can be cared for by the Southern Clinical Network.

This means that you may have a different clinician contacting you each time, and that roster will rotate around the whole Southern region.

It may be helpful to use that opportunity to enrol with a local general practice.

Your whole household will need to self-isolate with you, too, for the duration required.

If you need some additional support, you can be referred to Work and Income and the Ministry of Social Development. They will triage your needs and provide some support according to their criteria.

They can also send your referral to your local Community Connector Service in your area which can do things like food parcel deliveries, if you don’t have a family member or friend to help do this for you.

In Waitaki, we have a number of agencies, including food service agencies, that can provide support and it’s great to start making your whanau plans now.

Try to organise the medication you may need from the pharmacy, who can do your groceries, make arrangements with family, neighbours or friends or relevant agencies.
Our local hospital has robust Covid-19 response plans and they also need to protect other patients who don’t have Covid-19.

If you do end up going to the hospital presenting with relevant Covid-19 symptoms, there is a designated area that will mainly act as a temporary space until you are assessed to either return home to selfisolate or they will make arrangements for you to travel to Dunedin.

It’s a scary time for many of us. We are uncertain how we will cope if we test positive for Covid-19, who will help care for our kids, our elderly folk, and what about the stigma it may bring?

How will we manage financially while we selfisolate?

What if my house is overcrowded? How do we get our groceries delivered? Who will walk the dog? Who will run our businesses?

These are the conversations we need to have as families, in our workplaces and in our community and, if we haven’t already, develop those contingency plans.

We may also need to be prepared for a time where the Covid-19 care in community system is too overloaded and the healthcare system will not be able to keep up and people fall through the gaps.

As the world of Covid-19 changes on a daily basis, we need to remember we will get through this and we need to continue to support each other as a community.

We can look to where the needs are and work out our local plans for how to best support each other with wraparound support from our health providers and relevant agencies.

Be vigilant with your health precautions and be respectful to those in our community who will be required to self-isolate as with those who may fall ill with Covid-19.

Lastly, ahuge thank you to our health providers and community organisations for your efforts with the vaccination programme. It’s been a long haul for many.

We have been fortunate to have time on our side and the vaccination efforts wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s support.

  • Hana Halalele is a Waitaki district councillor and the manager of the Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group.