Coronavirus: One in five people presenting to Middlemore Hospital's emergency department have COVID-19

Counties Manukau DHB has by far the highest number of cases in the country, making up 57 percent of Auckland's active cases and 40 percent of cases in the entire country.

Middlemore Hospital emergency department clinical director Dr Vanessa Thornton says it's putting pressure on staff, on the hospital and on beds.

Last week one in 10 people presenting to the emergency department at Middlemore Hospital had COVID-19, now it's one in five.

"Twenty percent of the presentations to the hospital are positive with COVID, obviously not all of those are admitted," Dr Thornton says.

There were 3297 community cases across the country on Wednesday, but Health Minister Andrew Little says the true number is far higher.

"You can multiply the daily case numbers by a factor of two, three, four, even five, that'll be the real numbers," Little warns.

And hospital staff are just as susceptible as anyone else.

"We have positive staff, we have close contact staff, so same as any other employer, we're affected. We employ from our community, there's a lot of COVID in the community," says Dr Thornton.

But there's some good news, the admission rate for Omicron is much lower.

"Only 2 percent, as versus 10 percent of the people who were sick with Delta needed hospitalisation, we've got no-one in the ICU at the moment," says Dr Thornton.

And while vaccinations are helping to keep hospitalisations down, elective surgeries are being postponed to free up beds.

"It will mean putting off planned care so people expecting their hip surgeries and thing like that, they will be deferred to free up bed space for those COVID patients who need hospital-level care," Little says.

Reminding people to use the emergency department for emergencies only.