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South Auckland doctors 'preparing for the worst' as coronavirus outbreak looms

One of the areas most at risk in the coronavirus pandemic is South Auckland, which is preparing for what's predicted to be an onslaught of cases.

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Pasifika leaders are worried people aren’t being given correct information. Source: 1 NEWS

But community leaders say their people are not being given information on day-to-day survival.

Middlemore Hospital is on the frontline of the Covid-19 battle and is preparing for the inevitable. 

"We are expecting that if the predictions are right, we will be very busy with this," the emergency department's clinical lead Dr Vanessa Thornton told 1 NEWS.

"We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."

Security is tight, with nurses checking people before letting anyone in.

This is a vulnerable community. It has the highest diabetes statistics in the country.

When Covid-19 hits, it will hit hard.

"We haven't seen a large number of Pacific people cases yet, but this is about preparation," Fepulea'i Margie Apa, CEO at Counties Manukau DHB, told 1 NEWS.

That preparation includes a new Covid-19 centre outside the emergency department.

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The 73 confirmed and five new probable cases brings the nation’s total Covid-19 cases to 283. Source: 1 NEWS

Anyone feeling unwell or with Covid-19 health questions can get the answers there.

The health informatIon centre is open from 7.30am until midnight and is staffed at all times by at least two nurses.

While it's a welcome initiative, Pacific leaders are scathing of the lack of Government engagement with Pasifika.

"There will be fatalities," Pacific Leadership Forum's Teleiai Edwin Puni told 1 NEWS.

"You know it is just going to go and hit our people hard and we only have a few hours to make sure they are prepared.

"We have heard about prevention, that is getting through, but the caring for our people, we are not getting it."

Like beneficiary Huhana Henry, who struggles to make things meet at the best of times.

"[I'm] not being able to get the essentials that I need because the shelves are empty and not having enough money," she told 1 NEWS.

With medical problems, she's scared of contracting the virus and has scoured $2 shops to find protective clothing.

Nina Tamatoa, in lockdown with seven others, is also worried.

"I'm worried for my son and grandparents rather than myself, because it's getting more serious with the lockdown."

Counties Manukau health authorities are urging the community to adhere to the lockdown and stay at home, or risk ending up at the hospital.