COVID-19 Guidance

updated 21 December 2022

Aotearoa New Zealand is no longer operating under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Lights), however with high numbers of COVID-19 still being recorded in the community, we know that it’s still a worrying time for many of you. We are updating this page as information comes, to help you to look after yourself and your loved ones if help is needed. For further info on COVID-19, go to Unite against COVID-19.

Update on boosters

Māori and Pacific people over the age of 40 are now able to book their second booster, due to stats showing that Māori and Pacific people are twice as likely to die from the virus, with the risk increasing for older people. Those in the general population aged 50 and over are also eligible for a second booster.

Testing positive for COVID-19

  • We encourage having a supply of rapid antigen tests (RATs) as part of your household first aid kit. Testing is an important step for managing the virus, and keeping our communities safe. To order RATs, go here.
  • People who test positive for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate for 7 days. Household contacts are recommended to take a RAT test every day for 5 days. Provided they test negative, they will be able to go about daily life as normal.
  • If you have tested positive with a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), record your result in My COVID Record or call 0800 222 478 and choose option 3.
  • The COVID Welfare Response line, 0800 512 337 and regional triage teams are available Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, and Saturday 8am-1pm. They no longer operate on Sundays or public holidays.

Antiviral medications

Antiviral medicines reduce the amount of COVID-19 virus in your body, so you don’t get as sick and you’re less likely to go to hospital.

These are free if you have COVID-19, became sick within the last 5 days and are eligible for the medicines.

If you’re at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and your RAT is positivereport your result immediately in My COVID Record to get the help you need as early as possible. Your GP or a COVID-19 Care in the Community hub will then contact you and may offer COVID-19 antiviral medicine, which can help you get better sooner, and prevent serious illness.

Antiviral medicines can be prescribed within the first 5 days of COVID-19 symptoms starting, and are more effective the sooner they are taken. If you’re very unwell, or you haven’t been contacted within 24 hours of reporting your RAT result, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. COVID-19 antiviral medicines are free for people eligible under Pharmac’s access criteria. Included are:

  • Māori or Pacific people aged 50 years or older
  • everyone aged 65 years and older
  • anyone aged 50 years or older with fewer than two COVID-19 vaccinations
  • anyone with a severely weakened immune system
  • anyone with Down syndrome
  • anyone with sickle cell disease
  • anyone previously in critical or high dependency hospital care from COVID-19
  • anyone with three or more high-risk medical conditions.

More info on the criteria and the list of high-risk medical conditions: COVID-19 Health Hub.

Antiviral medicines can be prescribed by GPs and nurse practitioners. They are also available from a number of pharmacies without a prescription, after the pharmacy confirms the person is eligible and the medicines are safe for them to take.

You may be eligible to get a prescription for antiviral medicines before you get sick. This means the pharmacy will have the prescription ready if you need it. Call your doctor or nurse practitioner to see if this is an option for you.

To find the nearest pharmacy that supplies antiviral medicine / rongoa use this online map.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booking Information

Click on this link to take you to a booking page. It’s a good idea to have your National Health Index (NHI) number handy. You don’t need it in order to book but it will speed up the process. If you need help with booking, contact Vaccination Helpline on 0800 28 29 26 or booking@vaccine.covid19.health.nz. Information in alternate formats and other languages are available here

We encourage you to get your booster when it’s due. If you’re eligible for a second booster, you can get this 6 months after your first booster.

Face masks

Face masks are a way we can protect ourselves and others. You must wear one when visiting healthcare services. If you are cannot wear a face mask, you can get a Mask Exemption Pass. Wearing a face mask is optional in other settings. More info here on face coverings.

MMR Vaccinations

With our borders open, there’s more chance of measles reaching New Zealand and then spreading in our community so it’s important to get immunised now for a free MMR vaccination that helps protect you and your tamariki from measles, mumps and rubella.

Extending flexibility for Carer Support and Individualised Funding

It’s good to hear that flexibility of carer support and individualised funding for eligible people has been made permanent. Carer Support is a subsidy to support full-time carers of disabled people to have a break (respite) from their caring responsibilities. Individualised Funding allows disabled people to directly manage their supports (personal cares, home management and respite).

This flexibility means that people can continue to buy the support appropriate for them within guidelines, instead of being limited by the rules on what support funding can be used for. You can find the guidelines of what you can buy here. What People Can Buy with Disability Funding: Ministry of Health NZ | Purchasing Guidelines. For further queries: customerservice@health.govt.nz or phone 0800 855 066 option 4.

Long COVID Guidelines

The Ministry of Health have released Long COVID guidelines for health professionals, individuals and those caring for people with long COVID. More info here. For info on Long COVID symptoms and management, go here.

COVID-19 Information for carers

COVID-19 information from the Ministry of Health that is specific to those who look after a sick or disabled person. Further information for family, whānau and āiga carers is available to download here.

Have your needs changed or have the needs of the person you care for changed?

Contact your local NASC: refer to Ministry Of Health information 

We Care Kiwi

With IHC, Carers NZ launched wecare.kiwi to help carers and people living alone get through COVID-19. It’s free and easy to register. and we will assist however we can with a helping hand or listening ear – check-ins and practical support. For more info call 0800 777 797 or email centre@carers.net.nz

PPE Guidance

Information on PPE here. Or download 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).

Services and Support

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

Foodbanks

If you are unable to get a grant from Work and Income, you may be able to get an emergency supply of groceries (ie a food parcel) from a local food bank. These are run by charities and rely on donations of fresh and packaged foods.

It is important to know that there is usually an intake process involved.

For example, depending on the food bank you may need the following:

Referral letter from WINZ, a budgeting service, church, CAB or bank statement showing that you are on a low income, in order to meet eligibility criteria and / or to show that you are getting budgeting help / proof of identity and/or address.

Please also note, you may be limited to a certain number of food parcels per year.

COVID-19 Accessible Information

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

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.

Dedicated COVID-19 disability helpline: call free on 0800 11 12 13 or text 8988 if you need help or information about vaccines, testing, face mask exemptions, and managing COVID-19 at home. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can access this helpline using the NZ Relay Service if you need assistance or more information: www.nzrelay.co.nz  Facebook – disability helpline UAC

COVID-19 support and information for disabled people in New Zealand | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Downloadable resources

Portal | COVID-19 Resource Toolkit (covid19.govt.nz)

Order free COVID-19 collateral for businesses, communities and events

Blue Star | Main Catalogue

Health Navigator includes trusted resources on how to manage COVID-19 including symptom diaries, whānau plans, essential items and looking after mental wellbeing:

COVID-19 | Health Navigator NZ

Self-care workbook

Tips and tools for getting through another lockdown day

The Covid complication

We are not Machines

Take a Break

Join our community

Carers NZ Facebook for regular updates