COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment Central Supply

Information on PPE and the supply of PPE from the Ministry’s COVID-19 Central Supply to health care and border workers contributing to the COVID-19 response.

This content on this page is currently being reviewed in the light of the Omicron outbreak.  It will be updated as soon as possible.

Last updated: 13 December 2021

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Overview

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for New Zealand's COVID-19 response is sourced and distributed as part of a nationally coordinated approach, managed by the Ministry of Health. A nationally coordinated approach enables supply directly to the groups that need PPE and overall stocktaking and management of supplies at a national level.

The Ministry’s COVID-19 PPE Central Supply services New Zealand’s health care workers and border workers that contribute to New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. Organisations are still expected to source and purchase their own PPE through commercial providers for non-health care workers, eg, patients at a general practice clinic without their own personal mask and for any scenario where PPE was used for routine procedures or interactions before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organisations can register for the online PPE Portal via Health Care Logistics or, if based in the Northern Region, Onelink. Once registered, organisations can place orders for PPE to be delivered to you.

PPE distributed from the COVID-19 PPE Central Supply has gone through a robust quality assurance process with verified documentation and product certification. Products are approved by the Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) Sub-Technical Advisory Group and the Clinical Oversight Group. These clinical groups consider all of the evidence to make informed decisions about whether products are fit for purpose in localised settings.

Where health care providers and health care workers choose to wear PPE that is not in accordance with the national COVID-19 IPC guidance, the responsibility to source and fund this PPE resides with the provider.

How the Ministry makes decisions around PPE

PPE from the COVID-19 Central Supply is provided to organisations in accordance with the direction set by Ministry’s IPC guidance and the current Traffic Light settings under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

The Ministry reviews and approves orders for PPE by considering evidence of an organisation’s PPE requirements at each Traffic Light setting including the number of staff, patients or residents and COVID-19 average weekly swabbing numbers where applicable.

The Ministry has distributed contingency stock of PPE to some sectors, so they hold 1–2 weeks of PPE at estimated pandemic usage levels, for use in the event of a change in Traffic Light setting or local COVID-19 transmission. The benefit of organisations holding and maintaining a contingency supply of PPE is that they have what they need to hand when they need it, while further supplies are provided. We will review holdings regularly and replenish contingency as required. Contingency supply supports the Ministry to make considered decisions for PPE supply, as we get a greater understanding of the scale and spread in situations of community transmission of COVID-19.

Items of PPE and essential items held in Central Supply

The COVID-19 PPE Central Supply is comprised of 7 categories of PPE:

  1. Masks
    • P2/N95 particulate respirators
    • Procedure/Medical masks – Type IIR / Level 2 and Level 3 masks
  2. Isolation Gowns
  3. Disposable Aprons
  4. Gloves – Nitrile and Vinyl
  5. Eye protection – Face-shields/visors and safety glasses/goggles
  6. Hand Sanitiser
  7. Disinfectant Wipes

The national COVID-19 IPC guidance for the use of PPE in specific settings should be followed. See more on the health care workers page.

PPE is just one measure to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Refer to the globally recognised Heirarchies of Control.

PPE Principles of Supply and eligibility

The Ministry, in partnership with health and disability system stakeholders, has developed Principles of Supply to guide the distribution of PPE from the COVID-19 PPE Central Supply.

Under this system:

  • district health boards (DHBs), managed isolation and quarantine facilities, border services, general practices and urgent care, pharmacies, aged residential care, disability support services and home and community support services, receive stock directly from the central supply in line with the principles for supply
  • private providers use their own networks to source and purchase PPE, unless identified by their DHB as requiring assistance for the provision of urgent public health services within their region.

If you are a health and disability sector provider, the PPE you access and receive from the Ministry of Health Centralised Supply of PPE will be in line with the IPC risk assessment matrix.

Note in some settings an individual case by case assessment maybe required based on all evidence, information, confirmation from national IPC, advisement of positive result or close contact alongside traffic light setting.

The current guidance for the supply of PPE is outlined in the table below. Note that there will be exceptions to the guidance, and the overarching principle is that PPE will be available to those who require it. Any situations where organisations are being supplied outside of the matrix will continue for the time being. If you have any queries about PPE supply and distribution email [email protected].

Principles for supply

  • The Central Supply enables PPE to be sourced to meet demand from essential publicly funded services that are in scope.
  • PPE for non-publicly funded services should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. The Ministry may provide PPE if commercial or retail suppliers are unable to source it, and it does not jeopardise the Central Supply.
  • The ability to pay is not a consideration in providing or prioritising distribution from the central supply.
  • PPE must be used according to the relevant national COVID-19 IPC guidance and processes published by the Ministry.
  • Any orders from providers must be reasonable, evidence based and proportionate to demand.
  • In times of increased demand, decision-making criteria are used to understand where PPE is to be distributed first, based on the following:
    • the type of service that requires the PPE (criticality of the service, eg, hospitals, managed and community isolation quarantine providers)
    • services providing support for vulnerable communities (high risk populations)
    • the level of inventory: stock on order, on hand and consumption rates (manage risk with early identification of supply shortage)
    • urgency of need across the country (balancing competing demand).

Category

Service

Criteria

Guidance

Assessment

A

Critical essential services – Tertiary & Secondary services

PPE is a legislative or mandatory requirement for BAU work

Includes DHB health care services, ambulance services, diagnostic services, community isolation/quarantine services, select non-health services (Customs, managed isolation facilities and managed isolation quarantine facilities).

Orders must be supported with appropriate usage and forecast information.

Full supply of PPE in Red and Orange Traffic Light settings based on risk assessment at no charge ensuring national IPC guidelines are adhered to.

For non-DHB specific services, PPE is supplied as a top up to regular PPE sourced for BAU activities by the provider.

B

Essential community health services that are publicly funded

Providing services into homes and unable to practise physical distancing

Recommended or required to wear masks at Orange and Red Traffic Light settings  as per national IPC risk assessment.

Includes aged residential care, disability care services, lead maternity carers and hospices, home and community support services. This includes Māori and Pacific health and disability providers.

Need to confirm the purpose for which they are ordering in line with national IPC guidance and risk assessment, and that any orders are proportionate to demand.

Steady state (BAU) PPE quantities should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers in a Green Traffic Light setting. The Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

At Red Traffic Light settings, where the setting is a result of local cases (as opposed to low vaccination rates), a full supply of PPE will be provided based on risk assessment at no charge ensuring national IPC guidelines are adhered to.

At Orange Traffic Light setting (or in the Red Traffic Light setting where it is not a result of local cases) and based on locality, PPE will be provided based on risk assessment ensuring national IPC guidelines are adhered to. PPE will only be supplied in an Orange Traffic Light setting at no charge, when supported by robust evidence of demand and forecasting information.  

At Green Traffic Light setting there will be no PPE supply. 

PPE will be provided in the event of an outbreak in a facility.

All long-term residential facilities will be provided 1–2 week’s stock to store as a contingency in case of an outbreak in that facility or for use in a changing traffic light setting.

P2/N95 particulate respirators, isolation gowns and nitrile gloves will only be supplied when there is an identified close contact or C-19+ patient/client as confirmed by the local PHU or DHB.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at a Green Traffic Light setting where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

C

Core essential health services that are publicly funded

Providing a core medical service to the public, and unable to practise physical distancing or engaging with clients/patients that present with COVID-19 related symptoms and/or identified as a close contact

Recommended or required to wear masks at Orange and Red Traffic Light settings as per IPC risk assessment.

Includes general practice, urgent care, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, registered and publicly funded school nurses, hospice, mental health and addiction services and Dentists referred by the local DHB etc.

Need to confirm the purpose for which they are ordering in line with IPC guidance, and that any orders are proportionate to demand.

At Orange or Red, where a general practice or urgent care clinic is carrying out swabbing for PCR results related to COVID-19 as part of the overall public health response in New Zealand, they will be supplied with the PPE required per national IPC risk assessment. Further where general practice or urgent care clinics are undertaking a clinical assessment on patients with COVID symptoms. The supply of P2/N95 particulate respirators in general practice and urgent medical health care providers will be based on PCR swabbing numbers, registered practitioners and nurse ratios and allocated based on Fit Test declarations. Note: PPE will not be supplied for pre-departure testing for other jurisdictions which sit outside of New Zealand’s public health response or for non symptomatic surveillance testing (eg, using Rapid Antigen Tests).

At Red and Orange Traffic Light settings based on risk assessment PPE will be supplied at no charge ensuring national IPC guidelines are adhered to.

Outside of swabbing requirements, P2/N95 particulate respirators, isolation gowns and nitrile gloves will only be supplied when there is an identified close contact or C-19+ patient/client as confirmed by the local PHU or DHB.

At Green Traffic Light setting PPE will only be supplied to support COVID-19 PCR swabbing. PPE for all other clinical or practical assessment should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers in this setting.

PPE provided from the Ministry of Health central supply is not to be provided or on-sold to the general public.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at a Green Traffic Light setting where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

D

Non-essential health services

Unable to put in practical physical distancing measures or are working at the public interface.

Recommended or required to wear masks in Red and Orange Traffic Light setting

Includes non-essential allied health services, funeral directors, chiropractors etc.

PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. The Ministry is a ‘last resort’ supplier.

Do not supply from the central supply unless designated as an essential service at Red or Orange Traffic Light setting.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at a Green Traffic Light setting where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints

E

Non-health essential services

Inability to practise physical distancing. Either non-public facing but staff that can be directed, or workers who require PPE for BAU work.

Recommended or required to wear masks in Red and Orange Traffic Light setting

Includes plumbers, electricians etc who go into homes, waste management etc.

PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at a Red, Orange or Green Traffic Light settings where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints

When to use PPE

It’s important to use the most appropriate PPE correctly and safely for the work you are doing.

The national COVID-19 IPC guidance defines the PPE that should be used in various settings and is the basis of supply to providers.

You should always follow routine IPC precautions (Standard Precautions as well as any necessary Transmission Based Precautions) for all care.

Storing PPE

The Ministry recommends PPE should be stored as per the manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging – generally this includes being stored in a dry environment within appropriate temperature ranges. Storing outside of the recommended conditions may result in damage to the packaging or to the PPE itself.

PPE should be stored at least 40mm off the ground.

Physically damaged and expired PPE must not be used as it is unknown whether it will function as intended and may result in inadequate protection for the user. PPE with damaged packaging can be visually inspected by a health professional to determine if it can be released.

Manufacturer’s storage recommendations can usually be found near the Lot number on the product’s box label. When specific conditions are not listed and descriptive terms are used, the WHO recommends the following interpretations:

Label description

Recommended limits

Store at controlled room temperature

15 to 25°C

Store in a cold or cool place

8 to 15°C

Store in a refrigerator

2 to 8°C

Store in a freezer

-25 to -15°C

Store in a deep freezer

-80 to -60°C

Store in a dry place

< 60% relative humidity

Protect from moisture

< 60% relative humidity

Store under ambient conditions

Store in well-ventilated premises at 15 to 30°C and < 60% relative humidity. Extraneous odours, other indications of contamination and intense light must be excluded.

Protect from light

To be maintained in the original manufacturer’s light-resistant containers.

Chilled

2 to 8°C

Source: WHO Expert Committee on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations: fifty-fourth report

In the absence of any storage recommendations, we can refer to the environmental limits of 25°C and 60% relative humidity, or 30°C and 65% relative humidity which New Zealand uses to test the long-term stability of medicine as a guide for appropriate conditions. Therefore, whenever possible use 25°C and 60% relative humidity as a default storage condition if there are no storage instructions on the PPE.

Disposing of PPE

PPE that has been utilised in health care settings should be carefully disposed of.

In the hospital setting, used PPE should be discarded in alignment with the hospital policy.

In the community, used PPE should be put into a separate bag and sealed before placing in the general waste.

Some items of PPE can be re-used, such as safety glasses and face shields/visors. These items should be re-processed/cleaned according to manufacturers recommendation or align with local IPC policy for cleaning re-usable equipment. Masks, aprons, gowns and gloves should not be reused.

PPE that has passed the expiry date as specified on the packaging should be disposed of in a way that reduces the risk of expired PPE inadvertently being utilised in a health care setting.

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