COVID-19 Guidance

updated 8 January 2024

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COVID-19 Guidance

With a highly vaccinated population and increased access to antiviral medicines to treat COVID-19, public health experts have said it is safe to remove most COVID-19 rules. However, 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.

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.

Studies show that around 10–20% of people infected by COVID-19 may go on to develop long COVID. This means there may be some 200,000 individuals impacted by long COVID in Aotearoa New Zealand. A Long COVID registry has been set up in response. To register or to find out more, go to the Long COVID Registry Aotearoa New Zealand.

COVID-19 settings

All mandatory requirements have been removed, however, it is still highly recommended to do what you can to keep you and your loved ones safe. The best way to keep immunity levels high is to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommendations:

  1.  People who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least 5 days, even if they only have mild symptoms, starting at Day 0. Some people can still be infectious for up to 10 days, so it is recommended they wear a mask if they need to visit a healthcare facility, aged residential care facility or have contact with anyone at risk of getting seriously unwell with COVID-19.
  2. Day 0 is the day symptoms started or when they tested positive, whichever came first.
  3. Isolation means not going to work or school.
  4. If people are still unwell after they have completed 5 days of isolation, it is recommended they stay home until they are recovered.  They should not visit a healthcare facility (except to access health care), aged residential care facility or have contact with anyone at risk of getting seriously unwell with COVID-19.

For more info on what this means for you, Te Whatu Ora have created info sheets –

FAQs – Changes to COVID-19 settings

Key messages to support changes in COVID-19

Additional documents from Te Whatu Ora:

Funding Guidance for Community Pharmacy Model of Care for COVID-19

Funding Guidance for Primary Care Model of Care for COVID-19

If you have COVID-19 and your symptoms get worse or you need urgent medical care, call your local healthcare provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.  For further info: Unite against COVID-19.

A bivalent Covid-19 vaccine has replaced the existing Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for boosters. If you’ve had COVID-19 it’s recommended to wait 6 months after testing positive before getting a booster.

Book through Book My Vaccine on 0800 28 29 26, or via your primary care provider. People aged 30 or over, or those at higher risk of severe illness, are also eligible for an additional booster, regardless of how many they’ve had previously.

High risk groups include:

  • People aged 65+
  • Māori and Pacific people aged 50+
  • Aged care and disability care residents
  • Severely immunocompromised people aged 12+
  • People aged 16+ with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe breakthrough Covid-19 illness, or who have a disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities
  • People who were recommended to receive a booster in April 2023 but have not yet done so
  • Pregnant people who have not had any booster dose previously, have co-morbidities, or have no history of previous COVID-19 infection

People aged 16-29 are able to seek a vaccination via a prescription from their doctor.

Testing, vaccination, and hospital level care is free. Check with your healthcare provider regarding other COVID-19 related visits: you may be eligible for free healthcare.

Covid-19 vaccine is now available for immunocompromised and high-risk tamariki under age 5. Parents or guardians of tamariki aged 6 months to 4 years can book in for a paediatric Pfizer vaccine.

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 free RATs, go here.
  • For further info: COVID Welfare Response line, 0800 512 337 and regional triage teams are available Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, and Saturday 8am-1pm.

Antiviral medications

Eligibility for antiviral medicine to treat COVID-19 will become the key focus of primary, Hauora provider and community pharmacy care from 1st October.  This will ensure the people who are most at risk of serious outcomes from the virus receive the support they need. People who are not at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 can still access related healthcare at their doctor, hauora provider or pharmacy, but they will be asked to pay just like they do for other health services. Antiviral medicines are free if you have COVID-19, became sick within the last 5 days and are eligible for the medicine.

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.

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.

MMR Vaccinations

It’s also important to get immunised from measles, mumps and rubella. Get a free MMR vaccination that helps protect you and your tamariki.

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.

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 

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

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 info. 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

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