THIS IS OUR SURGE PLAN FOR THE OMICRON OUTBREAK – FAQs
How can I see my doctor during the Omicron outbreak?
We need to be able to help everybody on the same day as they require care. We anticipate greatly increased demand for our services. Our usual process of 15-minute appointments will not be suitable for ensuring everyone gets care on the day that they need it.
- During the Omicron outbreak, you will not able to make your own appointment through the portal or by asking the receptionist to book you an appointment to see the doctor/nurse.
- One of the doctors will be on “triage duty” all day – this doctor will initially help you if you are unwell, or need medication, or need a consultation or other medical service.
- This service will be on a queue system – please call us on 09-5796147 and ask the “triage doctor” to call you back.
- There will be a fee for this service.
- We expect to be very busy during an Omicron outbreak so we will be unable set a specific time to call back but will try call back as soon as we can manage. If you need to be called back urgently, please tell the receptionist.
- The doctor will then help you with your medical need if it is possible to do so on the phone safely or book a face-to-face appointment for examination with the “examination doctor” or Covid swab with the “swabbing doctor”.
- There will be a roster for the doctors who will rotate through the “triage duty”, “examination duty” and “swabbing duty”. We regret you may not be able to see your preferred doctor on the day as they may not be on triage or examination duty that day.
How do I see nurse during the outbreak?
Please call reception on 09-5796147 and ask for nurse to call you back. A short description that reception can tell nurse would be helpful eg child immunization, B12 or depo injection, wound dressing.
How do I get my regular scripts during the outbreak?
This will be done the same as before – either through the portal or by calling reception on 09-5796147
I am worried that I have Covid and want a test, what do I do?
You can access testing either at a testing station https://www.arphs.health.nz/public-health-topics/covid-19/where-to-get-tested, or we can do the testing during the working week. To book a swab, please call reception 09-5796147 (swabs are not booked through the portal). When the outbreak peaks, we regret that we may not be able to offer a swab to everyone who wants one on the day.
We are only allowed to take a Ministry-funded swab for you if you have symptoms of covid-19 (runny nose, sore throat, cough, loss of taste or smell, fever, diarrhoea etc) or if you have been a contact of a known case. We are not allowed to do a Ministry-funded swab for you if you wish it for personal reasons eg travel, visiting an elderly relative, having private surgery etc. We do not offer self-funded swabs – swabs or saliva testing for personal reasons can be accessed through several A&M’s (eg White Cross Lunn Ave, White Cross Ascot, Onehealth Remuera at122 Remuera Road) or Rako Laboratories
I need a pre-travel Covid test for overseas travel, what do I do?
We do not offer pre-travel Covid testing. You can access this at the White Cross clinics, the nearest ones to us are Lunn Ave A&M and the Ascot A&M clinics, or Rako Laboratories https://www.rakoscience.com/.
I haven’t been vaccinated – will I be discriminated against?
We do encourage everyone to take the vaccine http://immunisation.northernregion.health.nz/. Evidence shows that those who are vaccinated do become less unwell if they catch Covid-19.
However, we respect your choice and will not treat you any differently if you have chosen not to take the vaccine. We do separate coughing/runny nose/unwell patients from those who are well in the practice, irrespective if they have been vaccinated or not.
Is a booster necessary?
Yes, we recommend a booster for everyone who is eligible. This is due 4 months after your second dose. It is also due 4 months after your third dose if you are immunocompromised (eg cancer treatment, immunosuppressants, prednisone) and received three primary doses. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccine-boosters
I have been in contact with someone with Covid-19/ I have been at a place of interest. What do I do?
A close contact is
- someone who may live or work with someone with Covid-19 infection
- or have been in the same place at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19. AND:
- been close (within 1.5 metres) to a positive case of COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes and the Case was not wearing a mask or wasn’t wearing it properly OR
- had direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva from a Case (eg, kissing, shared a cigarette, vape or drink bottle, or if the person coughed or sneezed directly on you) OR
- spent time in an indoor space for more than 1 hour with a case and at least one of the following:
- the Case was singing, shouting, smoking, vaping, exercising, or dancing
- the Case was not wearing a mask or wasn’t wearing it properly
- the indoor space was poorly ventilated (ie, there were no windows or doors open)
- the indoor space was smaller than 100m2 (about three double garages).
All household members of a case are Close Contacts.
You should isolate immediately at for 10 days from last exposure. You should test immediately, and on day 5 and on day 8 after last exposure. If COVID-19 symptoms develop, get an additional test immediately. Your household members (also called secondary contacts) are advised to stay at home until the Close Contact returns a negative day 5 test result. Here is a fact sheet for close contacts. Here is a fact sheet for household members of close contacts
A casual contact is someone who has been in the same place at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19 but may not have been near the person. You should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days and If COVID-19 symptoms develop, get tested and stay at home until negative test result is received. Here is a fact sheet for casual contacts
What should I keep at home in case we get Covid?
These are useful items
- 2 weeks supply of food, including pet food. Frozen ready meals and tinned food are easy to prepare.
- Make sure you have enough of your regular medication on hand
- Extra nappies for children (diarrhoea is a common symptom of covid in children)
- Rubbish bags
- Cleaning products for cleaning shared spaces
- Plastic disposable gloves
- Hand sanitizer
- Face masks
- Pain relief eg Paracetamol, Ibuprofen
- Hydration fluids eg hydralyte (ask your pharmacist what they recommend)
- Ice blocks are good for children who are nauseous (adults too!)
- Throat lollies or remedies for sore throat such as lemon and honey remedies
- Games/books/puzzles to entertain children and adults
What else should I think about in planning for us possibly having to isolate?
If someone tests positive for Omicron, everyone living in the same dwelling as the case will have to stay at home for the entire time they are isolating. Families in the same household are encouraged to have a meeting so everyone, including children, knows what to do if someone gets sick or has to go to hospital.
- Create a map of your home and mark out shared spaces, isolating areas and a sanitising station with the intent of reducing the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible. If you are infected, it’s best to limit time in shared spaces, and to use your own household items and take care of your own laundry.
- Make a list of your family information, including names, ages, NHI numbers, any medical conditions and medication people regularly take.
- Make plans if you have shared custody of a child or dependent, and check in with any relevant schools, employers and in-home caregivers.
- Think about how to let people know if you’re heading into self-isolation, such as your neighbours and wider family, and how people can help you with contactless drop-offs – eg texting before they arrive, or leaving goods at an agreed entrance.
- If you are living alone, contact friends, family or a local organisation that can drop off food or supplies if you need to self-isolate.
- Have someone in mind that you can organise regular catch-ups with either online or via phone in the event of self-isolation.
Staying mentally healthy during self-isolation is extremely important. There are helpful support networks such as the Mental Health Foundation, Te Whare Tapa Whā and helpline 1737.
- There are also a variety of financial support options.
- Write down instructions for anyone who may need to keep your house ticking over if you get sick and require hospital care – these could for looking after pets, putting out bins, paying bills and watering plants.
I have tested positive – what is my risk and what do I do?
Healthy adults and children with COVID illness can self-isolate, manage their symptoms with simple measures and will usually recover well. You do not need to seek medical care unless your symptoms are severe or increasing. Those at higher risk are those over 60 years; immunocompromised or significant conditions (eg heart, lung conditions etc), pregnant, or not-vaccinated. The Public Health team will take special care for those who are high-risk and unwell with Covid.
Is Omicron different?
The Omicron variant appears to have milder symptoms and most people will not need medical care. The Omicron variant still causes serious illness in a smaller group of people. The group includes people who are >60 or have long-term medical conditions or are pregnant or are unvaccinated. The Public Health team will take special care for those who are high-risk and unwell with Covid-19.
Who looks after my health while I am at home unwell with Covid?
Currently, Public Health and the Whanau HQ team look after those isolating at home with Covid https://immunisation.northernregion.health.nz/whanauhq/
Ministry of Health has indicated that if there is a significant outbreak, your GP will be responsible for monitoring your health and recovery. We will provide this care by phone or video.
I HAVE COVID-19- What symptoms should I look out for and when should I seek help?
Here are links to some great information for adults and children. Here https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/c/covid-19-positive-care-at-home/ and https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/c/covid-19-positive-caring-for-your-child-at-home/
PLEASE CALL 111 if
- You have severe trouble breathing or severe chest pain.
- You are very confused or not thinking clearly.
- You pass out (lose consciousness).
PLEASE CALL Whanau HQ 0800 687 647 (0800 OUR MIQ) if
- You have new or worse trouble breathing.
- Your symptoms are getting worse.
- You start getting better and then get worse.
- You have severe dehydration such as having a very dry mouth or passing only a little urine or feeling very light-headed
- Your oxygen level on the pulse oximeter is 92 or below OR drops 3 points from the beginning of your illness.
How will I expect to feel when I am ill?
- Days 1-3 – you may have very mild symptoms or feel more unwell. You might feel a sore throat, cough, fever, headache. Sometimes you may have diarrhoea. You may feel tired and lose your sense of smell and taste.
- Days 4-6 – these are important days to be more aware of your symptoms. This is when lung (respiratory) symptoms may start to get worse, especially if you have other conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes. You may start to feel worse and may have aches, chills, cough and find it hard to get comfortable. Some younger people may develop rashes, including itchy red patches, swelling, or blistering on their toes or fingers.
- Days 7-8 – For people with mild illness, the worst is generally over after a week. Some people may get worse at this point or start to feel better briefly then take a turn for the worse. If you start to feel worse, contact the health team on 0800 687 647 (free to call, 24 hours a day).
- Days 8-12 – Continue to monitor your symptoms and record them in your diary.
- Days 13-14 – Most people will feel better by now. Some people feel more tired than usual. A slow return to activity is advised.
This link gives a more detailed timeframe of what to expect day by day: https://hfam.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Patient-Information-Long-Form-version-2021-05-19.pdf
Do I need an oxygen monitor (pulse oximeter)?
Only those at high risk need to check their oxygen regularly. Public Health will assess if you need one and send one to you if necessary. We have a small supply to lend you if you need one and the delivery from Public Health is delayed. If you want to buy your own pulse oximeter they are available at your pharmacy or on TradeMe. If you are over 60 or have significant medical conditions we recommend you consider buying one yourself. The ones on smartphones are not all accurate and not recommended to use if you become unwell with Covid-19. They may give a false low or false high reading.
Link to how to use an oximeter https://hfam.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Pulse-Oximetry-Patient-Instructions-2020-Jan-12.pdf
I am worried about getting food, wages, looking after pets and other social needs
You can call 0800 687 647 (0800 OUR MIQ) who will help with social needs. For financial support see https://covid19.govt.nz/isolation-and-care/financial-support/.
How do I get my regular medication if I am isolating due to Covid-19?
We can help you with this. Please call reception at 09-5796147.There are services that deliver medication (Zoom Pharmacy, Pilldrop), you may have family or friends who can pick up your meds for you, or your pharmacy may be able to deliver.
I am worried about my child getting Covid-19
Most children have a very mild illness with Covid-19 and get better by themselves. It is very common to see stuffy or runny nose, coughing, fever, occasional vomiting or diarrhoea, mild fussiness, less activity. Here is some great information https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/c/covid-19-positive-caring-for-your-child-at-home/
Please call Whanau HQ 0800 687 647 (0800 OUR MIQ) if your child has
- difficulty breathing or struggling to breathe.
- not drinking well, dry lips and mouth, not passing much urine, refusing to drink, vomiting.
- sleepy or confused,
- Pale/grey lips and skin.
- Fever in baby less than 3 months old, fever more than 5 days in a child older than 3 months
- Or if you are worried about your child
Please call 111 if your child looks very sick, or faints or has a seizure.
What about isolating and quarantine?
Here is the information about home isolation. This information sheet includes what to expect each day, how to isolate, when testing will be done, what to do if you feel unwell and are worried. http://immunisation.northernregion.health.nz/assets/Uploads/Blocks/Files/Whanau-HQ-Guide-PATIENT-12.21.pdf
What do I do to keep my whanau safe?
Try and stay 2 meters away from others in your home and wear a mask when in the same room as those who don’t have Covid-19. Try and keep windows and doors open to help ventilation. Try and have a separate bed or room to sleep if possible, and try and limit your time in shared spaces eg bathroom and kitchen. You can go outside but not out of your property.
When can I leave isolation?
You will need to isolate at least 10 days – as of end of January 2021 it is 14 days isolation of you have Omicron infection. The Public Health team will make the final decision when you can stop isolating. The people in your house will need to stay at home a further 10 days if they test negative at the end of your 10 or 14 days.
What is a critical worker? (this is not the same as an essential worker)
Within the health and disability settings, a critical health worker is defined as someone who provides a critical health service. There are more details in the link above
Critical worker (non-health and disability) means a role identified by a business that:
- requires a person with particular skills; and
- must be performed in person at the workplace; and
- must continue to be performed to:
- prevent an immediate risk of death or serious injury to a person or animal; or
- prevent serious harm (social, economic or physical) to significant numbers in the community.
Here is information about isolation requirements for critical workers who are close contacts, or have mild or asymptomatic covid-19. The isolation periods are shortened as long as appropriate RAT testing is negative.
Where can I get more information?