Tents have been set-up in the grounds of North Shore Hospital to triage an expected influx of Covid-19 patients.

Tents erected at North Shore Hospital to assess patients who might have Covid-19. Photo / Michael Craig
Tents erected at North Shore Hospital to assess patients who might have Covid-19. Photo / Michael Craig

Some hospitals have opted to use tents to assess people who might have the virus - keeping potential carriers well away from other staff and patients.

Tents arrived at North Shore Hospital and were set up over the weekend.

New Zealanders will be used to seeing such measures used after disasters overseas, and their use here underlines the health emergency the country and world faces.

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GP clinics are giving flu jabs in carparks, and photos emerged last week of hundreds of campervans lined up at sites in Auckland and Christchurch, ready for returning travellers to use for self-isolation.

Large numbers of elective (non-urgent) surgeries and procedures are also being postponed or sent to private hospitals to free up space and resources.

That has meant that hospitals that would normally be nearing capacity as winter approaches are now half empty.

It's understood much of the elective surgery centre at North Shore Hospital, a stand-alone building, will be used to treat coronavirus patients.

Sixty-three new confirmed and probable cases in NZ were reported yesterday, taking the total to 514. Of those, nearly 35 per cent are within the three Auckland region DHB areas.

Health Minister David Clark has confirmed hospitals might be mostly dedicated to coronavirus treatment, should the situation demand it.

"Some countries facing more cases of Covid-19 are dedicating some hospitals to treating the disease, and keeping others clear for other medical care," he said. "That approach could be used here as well, but no decisions have been taken at this stage.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

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"A huge amount of planning is going on across the health system for a range of possible scenarios."

Stopping Covid-19 from spreading within a hospital is essential to protect other patients and staff. If the latter fall sick then workforce shortages and burnout can quickly become a crisis.