COVID-19 Guidance

updated 1 July 2020
Alert Level 1

COVID-19: New Zealand is now at Level 1 – Prepare. At Alert Level 1, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and transmission in the community in New Zealand is very low.

Alert Level 1 sees everyone being able to return without restriction to work, school, sports and domestic travel, and you can get together with as many people as you want.

Controls at the borders remain for those entering New Zealand, including health screening and testing for all arrivals, and mandatory 14-day managed quarantine or isolation.

It’s also important that we keep the basic hygiene measures that have worked well through higher Alert Levels.

Carers NZ understands that this is a difficult and uncertain time, particularly when you’re responsible for supporting others. If you are caring for others it is important to know what support is available to you as a carer and those you look after, and we want to reassure you that we are here to guide you to what support there is out there.

We Care Kiwi

With IHC, Carers NZ has launched wecare.kiwi to help carers and people living alone get through COVID19. It’s free and easy to register, and we will assist however we can with a helping hand or listening ear – check-ins, practical support, pickups and dropoffs, helping to access what you need to stay safe. We know that although lockdown has eased for the majority of New Zealanders, if you are caring for someone, you may still be having to keep to your own bubble. If you prefer to talk to us, call our helpline – 0800 777 797 or email centre@carers.net.nz

Advice for disabled people and their families on getting support during COVID-19

Information including carer support, advice to disabled people and whānau who are directly employing staff, Funded Family Care, can be found here. Contact Carers NZ if you need more information 0800 777 797 or email centre@carers.net.nz

Health and disability services will be running as normal under Alert Level 1

However, precautions will be in place to protect people who are vulnerable.

These include:

  • strict adherence to infection prevention and control protocols
  • screening on entrance to medical facilities, where staff may ask you if you have been overseas recently, had contact with anyone who has been overseas recently, or had any potential recent exposure to COVID-19 such as being a close contact of a confirmed or probable case.

If you need to access healthcare, consider contacting your healthcare provider ahead of time so they can explain any different processes that are in place during Alert Level 1. COVID-19 related precautions are not expected to affect the availability or timeliness of health or disability services.

Many health and disability services were unable to be delivered under higher alert levels. Most of these services will be looking to catch up on missed appointments, and several services, including most immunisation and screening services, will be in touch with people who missed out over Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4.

Updates
  • Contact tracing phone calls: If you have been identified as a close contact, you can expect calls from Ministry of Health and Healthline. It is important to answer your phone. Find out how to recognise a call from the Ministry or Healthline at Contact tracing.
  • New Zealand is currently at alert Level 1 – Prepare. More information on alert levels can be found here
  • If you have symptoms of a cold or flu you should get tested for COVID-19. Do not put off seeking healthcare. Contact your GP or Healthline. Healthline can arrange an interpreter if English is not your preferred language.

The best source of up to date, consistent, government information is here.

PPE

We know that many of you are worried about gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for your workers at least. We understand this is now flowing to the workforce and frontline in health and disability. To keep you informed on current guidelines regarding PPE used by community care providers (includes aged residential care, aged-related community care, disability, hospice, and homecare) information can be downloaded here. More information about PPE can be found here: What’s important for you to know about PPE.

Food accessibility

Food accessibility may remain an issue of concern for many vulnerable communities. As COVID-19 restrictions ease across New Zealand, Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups have been discontinuing the 0800 numbers they established to enable people to access essential supplies during the COVID-19 lockdown. If you have concerns about food accessibility, contact wecare.kiwi for practical advice.

Services and Support

Information on government services which include temporary accommodation, mental health, social service providers, is available here.

Mental health and wellbeing

A new mental health toolkit, Getting Through Together, has been launched to give practical mental health and wellbeing advice and support during COVID-19. This includes the Sparklers at Home programme, which helps parents talk with their primary-school-aged children about mental health and wellbeing https://www.allright.org.nz/campaigns/getting-through-together

NHCC Psychosocial inbox for all psychosocial and mental health and addiction inquiries, internal and external NHCC_psychosocial@health.govt.nz

More info on accessing wellbeing services can be found here.

Healthline

The government has issued guidance about who is at increased risk. If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk of contracting COVID-19, Healthline can offer direct, free guidance on 0800 358 5453.

For non-coronavirus health concerns, Healthline provides this number – 0800 611 116.

For information about COVID-19 that is specific to those who look after a sick or disabled person, the Ministry of Health have put together an information sheet here.

Information for employees and employers

For carers who have to leave their current employment because of the current crisis, or if you are an employer, or run a business, Employment New Zealand has put together some guidance around financial support options, including the Wage Subsidy and Leave Payment schemes.

Being prepared

If you become unwell and would need to stop caring while you recover, what alternative care arrangements are needed? This would be a difficult situation for many carers and those they support – for them, life cannot simply be put on hold. Read our advice on creating a contingency plan. For example, you can ensure key information is made readily available for professionals.

Tell your GP that you are a carer

If you haven’t already done so, tell your GP that you have caring responsibilities. They can then update these details on your medical records.

If you have a good GP, they will provide as much information and support as possible to help you feel more confident in your caring role. However, you may have to ask. Some things to think about:

  • arranging home visits if it is difficult to attend in person
  • arranging ‘double’ appointments for both you and the person you care for at the same time
  • arranging for repeat prescriptions to be delivered to your local pharmacy to save you picking them up, or options which deliver direct to your home or the person you care for
  • providing supporting letters and information in order to access available services
Information on flu vaccines

The flu can have a big impact on you and your community. If you are unsure about whether to get an annual flu vaccine, call your general practitioner to discuss where and how you might get one. Flu vaccine is recommended and free for people who are vulnerable and most likely to get more severe symptoms. These priority groups are:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain long-term conditions and illnesses such as diabetes
  • Children aged 4 years or under who have needed to stay in hospital for severe respiratory illness or children aged 5 years or under who have needed to stay in hospital with measles.

For a full priority list, go here.

Health and Disability Services Consumers’ rights

The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ rights continues to apply to health and disability services in the COVID-19 response. More information is available here.

Essential services in the health and disability system

For information on essential services in the health and disability system under our Alert Levels, go here.

WHO Guidance document

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published guidance ‘Addressing Human Rights as a Key to the COVID-19 Response’.

The guidance document highlights the importance of integrating a human rights-based approach to the COVID-19 response and highlights key considerations in relation to addressing stigma and discrimination, prevention of violence against women, support for vulnerable populations, quarantine and restrictive measures, and shortages of supplies and equipment. Read it here

COVID-19 – General information

COVID-19 (sometimes called novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV), has been identified as a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses which cause illnesses such as the common cold, and the more concerning Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Am I at risk?

If you have concerns about being at risk, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please telephone the free Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.

The situation in NZ is being closely monitored and regularly updated by the Ministry of Health.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Under current recommendations, even those with mild symptoms are encouraged to get tested. Anyone with any of the following symptoms should get assessed:

  • fever – if you have a temperature of 38 degrees or more
  • a cough that is new or one that has been getting worse over a few days
  • shortness of breath or finding it hard to breathe
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell

If you are struggling to breathe, this is a sign of possible pneumonia. Please get medical help urgently by calling 111 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have put together a comprehensive FAQ here.

Prevention – how to protect yourself and others

Simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you’re unwell
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, get tested
  • Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.
  • Maintain physical distancing. Keep at least a 1.5 metre distance from people you don’t live with or who aren’t family / whanāu / close friends
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues, or cough / sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face if your hands are not clean.
  • Clean surfaces regularly.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping others’ noses
    • during and after caring for people who are unwell

More information on how to protect yourselves and others is here.

For COVID-19 health advice and information

Call 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453). It is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Callers are able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service. They have access to interpreters.

Use this dedicated number:

  • To register if you have self-isolated yourself
  • For any coronavirus health advice and information and any questions you have about coronavirus, self-isolation etc.

For more information on caring for yourself and others who have, or may have, COVID-19 at home, download the Ministry of Health’s infosheet.

For getting the help and support you need, the New Zealand Government have an infosheet – everything you need in one place.