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Public hospitals defer surgeries and pressure on GPs mounts as case numbers climb (Photo: Negative Space/Pexels)
Public hospitals defer surgeries and pressure on GPs mounts as case numbers climb (Photo: Negative Space/Pexels)

The BulletinJuly 11, 2022

Covid hospitalisations back at April levels

Public hospitals defer surgeries and pressure on GPs mounts as case numbers climb (Photo: Negative Space/Pexels)
Public hospitals defer surgeries and pressure on GPs mounts as case numbers climb (Photo: Negative Space/Pexels)

Experts are urgently calling for less focus on traffic lights and more on mask use as nearly every public hospital defers surgery and pressure on GPs mounts, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.

 

Focus on mask use, not colour of traffic light

According to the New York Times Covid tracker, New Zealand now has the third highest number of Covid cases per 100,000 people in the world based on numbers over the last seven days. On Sunday we returned to hospitalisation numbers we haven’t seen since April. Nearly all public hospitals are delaying or cancelling surgeries according to RNZ this morning. Michael Baker appeared on Newshub’s The Nation on Saturday calling for the government to step in now saying that instead of focusing on which colour the traffic light should be, the focus should be on mask use.

“Over 800 ads for GPs across Aotearoa at the moment”

In some good boots-on-the-ground reporting, Q&A’s Jack Tame spent time with a health clinic in the Auckland suburb of Papakura recently and found just two staff juggling 90 appointments. Dr Matire Harwood said she understands there are over 800 ads for GPs across Aotearoa at the moment and is struggling to find staff. RNZ’s Katie Todd had another good example of the pressure GPs are feeling last week, visiting a clinic in Whangārei with National party health spokesperson Shane Reti. The GP at that clinic, Geoff Cunningham, has outlined his concerns about the state of general practice for Stuff this morning.

Word of caution for employers about sick leave

An employment lawyer has warned employers (paywalled) who require staff to work while they’re sick with Covid that they could face claims if workers end up with long Covid. Employment specialist Jennifer Mills says “An employer could be potentially exposed to a claim for failing to ensure a safe working environment if they have required an employee to work while sick which has also increased the risks for that employee in developing the debilitating effects of long Covid”. The Employers and Manufacturers Association is worried about complacency from both employers and employees, and presenteeism, where people turn up to work sick, especially if they’re in roles where they feel the public depends on them.

The difficulties among the splintering discourse

Whether it’s complacency, feeling weary or just desperate to get on with things, we are now in the era of the pandemic that might mildly be described as more discursive. This isn’t limited to members of the public either, but is happening within the scientific community. This was perfectly illustrated in the overwhelming responses to this piece from Andrew Nikiforuk at Canadian publication The Tyee, titled “The Forever Pandemic”. He was accused of doomsaying and scaremongering, including by a virologist, and has since published a response to the response. Both are worth a read.

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