New Zealand hospitals are overflowing with sick children

Auckland’s Waitakere Hospital is one of many to experience an upsurge in illness this winter.

A woman, who wanted to speak anonymously, said there were so many people on Wednesday night that there was no room for her daughter in the regular children’s ward.

“I was like, man, they’re really busy here,” she said.

Her daughter was sick enough that they needed to get through the night.

“The nurse took us to what looked like a closet, but it was a clinician’s room, and I was like what’s going on here?”

She was told the ward was overwhelmed with sick children, especially with a highly infectious respiratory illness called RSV doing the rounds.

DHB told Newshub the room was appropriate for the family’s needs and said while there are vacancies now, the virus is contributing to increased demand throughout the hospital.

“The thought is because there was very little of this in the community here and in other countries with COVID, children who would have fallen ill last year were not exposed to it,” said the children’s respiratory expert, Dr Julian Vyes.

The Children’s Emergency Department at Middlemore Hospital had its busiest day a week and a half ago and Starship told Newshub it was also seeing record numbers of tamariki coming through the doors.

For infants, the virus can cause serious complications.

“Some children need to be admitted to hospital for help and some children need to be admitted to intensive care units to help them breathe,” said Dr Vyes.

Middlemore Children’s Hospital is so concerned about the sudden increase in illness that it has banned siblings from visiting siblings to help slow the spread of the virus.

General medicine clinics are also overwhelmed, and it’s not just children who catch winter bugs.

Dr Lily Fraser said that in the absence of COVID here, people have become complacent.

“Things are spreading more and more compared to last year when people were strict enough to stay at home.”

Health advice was then pierced through us, now we are being told to get back to basics.


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Linda Stewart

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