Staff at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital are expecting a surge in Covid-19 hospitalisations, as restrictions in the region ease further.
Auckland entered Step 2 of Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm on Tuesday, allowing shops to reopen with safety protocols in place.
Dr Vanessa Thornton, the hospital's clinical ED director, told Breakfast staff have been preparing for a surge in hospitalisations as a result.
"The system is always under pressure, and we are expecting a surge, but we have been preparing for the surge."
As of Tuesday, 79 people were in hospital with the virus — all in Auckland's four hospitals.
Thornton said preparation was occurring in the community and within the hospital to ensure its care was "up to scratch and appropriate for the severity of illness".
She said vaccinations had been helping to reduce severe illness and said Counties Manukau DHB reaching the 90 per cent first vaccination milestone on November 7 was "cause for celebration".
Thornton said the breathlessness of unvaccinated hospitalised cases was "really concerning" and "quite frightening" for them.
"They’re much sicker than the vaccinated patients. Again, we really encourage people that the vaccine helps, not only to reduce the severity, but also even prevent admission to hospital."
With restrictions eased further in Auckland, Thornton said her message to the public was to get vaccinated if they haven't yet and to get the second dose.
"It will really help your family, yourself and also the hospital system, but also follow all of the other advice.
"While we’re reducing the restrictions, remember to keep the hand washing, remember to wear your masks, social distancing … because that will also help reduce spread of the virus and obviously that’s what we’d like for everyone, to maintain their health."