Meningococcal, strep throat season is approaching

By Regan Paranihi

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems patients with underlying health conditions have been 'pushed down the barrel'.

While combatting coronavirus is the priority at this time, those with health conditions still remain as high-risk.

Testing stations have been set up across the country in an effort to detect the virus, however, most stations are not testing for other health risks.

Sue Crengle (Ngāi Tahu, Waitaha) leader of the Primary Care Group for Māori Covid-19 response team, she says, "The ones that don't do any other treatment then there's the potential for things like strep throat in tamariki and rangatahi could be missed or other conditions that need treatment."

The meningococcal season is fast approaching and this could pose another risk for young children.

"It is really important that the Well-child, the childhood immunisation schedule, is kept up to date and that's for things like measles and whooping cough because if tamariki don't have their full immunisation schedule then they might get one of these other illnesses," says Crengle.

Families are being urged to prepare themselves during this period.

"For whanau to be aware of what the symptoms of meningococcal disease are and to get to a GP or a hospital as early as possible."

With the four-week lockdown GPs and hospitals are aware they could face a backlog of patients.

Crengle says, "If people have been putting off getting in touch with their doctor for a while that or they've had the doctor speak to them on the phone but the problem is still there so they're waiting to come in face o face that there will be a bit of a backlog,"

 She's also advising families to stay well during this period of the unknown.

"Do the things that help you maintain a good sense of feeling well, whether or not that's karakia, singing, having a laugh with your whanau, going for a walk, eating as well as you can and looking after our mental health."

Crengle urges whānau to seek immediate medical advice in an emergency, ring 111, otherwise ring the Healthline numbers for advice 0800 611 116 or 0800 358 5453 for Covid-19 concerns.