COVID-19 Guidance

updated 18 September 2020

Kia kaha te reo Māori. Kia kaha Aotearoa! It’s Māori Language Week!

All of New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 2. Auckland is at Alert Level 2 with extra restrictions. These settings will be reviewed on 21 September. Find out more from the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

We will keep updating this page as the situation evolves.

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.

Extending flexibility for Carer Support and Individualised Funding

The Ministry of Health is extending the flexibility for Carer Support and Individualised Funding (IF) until 30 September 2020 (instead of 30 June 2020). This is to cover the KOWHEORI-19 | COVID-19 response during Alert Level 1.

While MoH is engaging with DHBs about these changes, these rules only apply if you are allocated Carer Support and IF through the Ministry (not your DHB). Please contact your DHB for information about other supports.

More information about Carer Support can be found here.

Recently we asked carers what they learned during the first lockdown. Their advice is practical and sensible :

  • stay safe by following guidance about hygiene including wearing masks when out of the house;
  • ensure medications and supplies are up to date, and keep them up to date;
  • have extra supplies of food and items you use most often;
  • buy a few extra items each grocery shop (specials for example) so if there is a sudden lockdown (as Auckland experienced in August) you won’t worry;
  • have a plan so that if services, support visits, school etc are disrupted, you are prepared;
  • don’t put off medical, dental, or other visits – stay up to date so you can more easily ride through a lockdown;
  • think about the ‘what ifs’: what help is available and how can you access help in new ways in a lockdown.

We are worried about carers who have come through the changing alert levels while supporting a family member or friend. We know many of you are tired, and things still aren’t back to ‘normal’. Many of you have also expressed that because of your circumstances, the lockdowns have felt no different from your everyday life. If you are struggling, talk to us – we can offer a listening ear and a helping hand where possible: 0800 777 797 or email centre@carers.net.nz

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 drop-offs, helping to access what you need to stay safe. We know that although the majority of New Zealanders have been adjusting their routines according to current alert levels, if you are caring for someone, you may have had to maintain your own bubble through a much longer period. If you prefer to talk to us, call our helpline – 0800 777 797 or email centre@carers.net.nz

Contact tracing phone calls

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has the virus, 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

Distancing restrictions on public transport have been eased

Public transport operators including airlines, buses, and trains are no longer being asked to maintain any seating restrictions or passenger capacity limits at Alert Level 2.

Information on masks

Masks must continue to be worn on public transport across the country. They do not need to be worn outside, like in the street or in outdoor recreational areas.

The Ministry of Health recommends that you consider wearing a mask when inside a public place and you are unable to maintain physical distancing with people you don’t know, especially if you are in Auckland.

Aucklanders travelling outside their region are encouraged to take the same precautions as they would take in Auckland – such as physical distancing, wearing masks in public settings, good hand hygiene and seeking health advice if unwell.

Here’s a quick rule of thumb for Aucklanders for face coverings:

·        On public transport – required

·        Inside a public place – good idea

·        Outside – not required but fine to do so

Face coverings are currently compulsory on public transport, however, there are exemptions. They don’t need to be worn:

·         by people with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face difficult.

·         by children under 12

·         on school buses

·         by passengers of small passenger vehicles, such as taxis, Uber, and Zoomy

·         on charter or group tours

·         on interisland ferries

·         on private flights

·         by private contractors of air services such as top-dressers

·         in circumstances such as in an emergency or when people need to prove their identity or communicate with someone who is deaf.

If one of these reasons applies to you, you do not need to show a medical certificate or other documentation to prove why you are not wearing a face covering. However, it may give you peace of mind to have information available on hand. The Ministry of Health has provided exemption cards which you can download and print here.

You will not be stopped from travelling on public transport.

More information on masks can be found here.

PPE Guidance

To keep you informed on current guidelines regarding gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) used by community care providers (includes aged residential care, aged-related community care, disability, hospice, and homecare) information can be downloaded here.

PPE information from the Ministry of Health: What’s important for you to know about PPE.

PPE for people accessing disability supports in Auckland

If you or your carers need PPE, and receive your disability support through Taikura Trust, here is further information on how to access the equipment you need.

1. If you have a service provider regularly coming to your home to provide support to you or your family member, they will organise PPE for you.

2. If you use Individualised Funding, your Individualised Funding Host will help you access the PPE you need.

3. If you receive Carer Support and no other services, you and/or your carers can access PPE through a new service. To do this, you can either:

Use this online form to make your request

Contact Independent Living, Vaka Tautua or Taikura Trust directly.

You can place a request for PPE yourself, or a family member or friend can submit a request on your behalf.

You can collect the order from locations around Auckland (listed in the request form), or it can be delivered directly to your address.

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.

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 has put together an information sheet here.

Information for businesses, employees and employers

Covid has proved disruptive for businesses, employees and employers globally. Employment New Zealand has put together some guidance for support options.

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
Feeling unwell in general?

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 flu vaccine is recommended and free for people who are vulnerable and most likely to get more severe symptoms. 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.

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

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 common illnesses such as a cold or 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 (at least 38˚C)
  • a new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or finding it hard to breathe
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell

Some people may present with less typical symptoms such as only: fever, diarrhoea, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea/vomiting, or confusion/irritability.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. The virus can be passed onto others before they know they have it – from up to two days before symptoms develop.

If you have these symptoms call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.

Read more about COVID-19 assessment and testing

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.

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.

Accessible Information

For information and advice in other formats:

NZ Sign Language (NZSL) | Easy Read | Large Print & Audio

Also: Te Reo Māori, nine Pacific languages, simplified Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese All translations here

Information for Pacific peoples.

COVID tracer app info

If you want to use the app but are concerned about data usage, you may want to wait until you’re connected to WiFi before you download the app.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, the ongoing data usage is minimal.  A very small amount of data is used when you register your contact information or when your phone checks for contact alerts.