Hawke's Bay could see almost 15,000 Covid cases next year based on healthcare modelling, but there's no need to panic, says Health Hawke's Bay chief executive Phillipa Blakey.
The figure takes into account travel movements under the traffic light system, and the region achieving a 90 per cent double vaccination rate.
The region has an 88 per cent double vaccination rate as of December 17.
Blakey said the modelling was around what could happen, but it wasn't a given.
"There's no need for people to be panicked because we, in conjunction with iwi, MoH and DHB, have done a lot of work around putting in place plans to ensure health needs are met.
"The numbers are just part of the modelling around what the scale of impact might be.
"We have ensured we have systems in place which are scalable, and welfare needs are met."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the modellings were "not forecasts".
"It is not possible for this modelling, or any modelling, to accurately forecast cases next year. Instead, these models present potential scenarios, driven by different assumptions."
A DHB spokeswoman said the Government and DHBs had been using healthcare modelling since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and "this is nothing new".
"These numbers help DHBs better prepare for managing Covid-19 cases in the community, which is particularly helpful given Government's introduction of the traffic light system frame and Auckland borders subsequently reopening."
Modelling suggests Hawke's Bay Hospital could see 41 Covid-related cases in the Emergency Department per week, leading to about 16 hospitalisations - of which two could require intensive care.
Hawke's Bay DHB Covid-19 Senior Responsible Officer Chris McKenna said most people with Covid would not need hospital-level care, and would be cared for in the community.
"Which is why significant planning has been undertaken with local councils, iwi and health, disability and welfare providers on a locally-led Covid-19 Coordination Centre model."
She said the preparedness model, which was presented to the DHB board at its December meeting, was part of a regional resilience plan and aligned to the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 preparedness Care in the Community framework.
"The Hawke's Bay Covid Coordination Centre brings the appropriate clinical, psychosocial, wellbeing and welfare services together to provide wrap-around support to Covid-positive people and their whānau and close contacts."
McKenna said it did not replace any services or outreach programmes already in place.
"Rather, it will work in partnership with those health and welfare response services to ensure there is an integrated response with clear communications, clinical procedures and workforce, both current and new, to implement and deliver care.
"It's vital that we are prepared so we can get to the finish line of this Covid marathon."
She said the operating model required hubs in Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay, with local leadership and services providing community-based welfare care, alongside appropriate health supports.
Standard Operating Procedures had been created so local teams were clear about their roles and responsibilities.
"We know from the work in Auckland, and vaccination rollouts, that local leadership is vital to achieving outcomes in the community.
"With advice and guidance coming from local hubs, the Hawke's Bay Covid Coordination Centre will be agile enough to provide tailored approaches to ensure whānau access the Covid-19 care available."
General practices would provide Covid 19 care to their enrolled patients isolating in the community, while a small group of practices had agreed to take on care for non-enrolled patients.
Primary Health Organisation, Health Hawke's Bay, along with the DHB would support and provide clinical oversight to these patients, she said.
McKenna said if Covid-positive patients required hospital care they would enter the system via the Care in the Community approach - meaning for many people, their arrival at hospital would be pre-arranged.
"There will be peaks and troughs so the numbers will vary from week to week. Vaccination is the greatest factor protecting the hospital and the community," McKenna said.
Blakey said healthcare services in Hawke's Bay have "always" been aware there was potential for there to be "quite large numbers" of people with Covid.
They have hired three full-time staff to help with Covid preparedness, including welfare response which would ensure people would have their general welfare needs met.