Omicron in the community: what this means for you

Phases for the health system response to Omicron in the community. We are currently in phase 3 of our Omicron response.

Through the course of managing Omicron, we will be taking a phased approach. As case numbers grow, both testing and isolation approaches will change in response. Vaccination remains our most effective weapon against the virus. Now that it is here, we expect case numbers to grow rapidly and put our health system under considerable pressure.

Here is what this means for you and how we will respond to the outbreak.

We are now in phase 3 of our Omicron response.

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Things you can do to protect yourself at all phases

  • Get your COVID Booster shot
  • 5–11 year olds first vaccination
  • Continue to Mask, Scan and Pass wherever you go
  • Good hygiene, physical distancing and stay home if unwell

Phase Three

Testing

  • Due to so many cases per day, focus of PCR testing is on priority populations
  • Symptomatic people may use a RAT for diagnosis – record positive or negative test results  on My COVID Record or through 0800 222 478
  • RATs available at a variety of locations, depending on reason for testing, including Community Testing Centres / Pick up points, GPs, pharmacies, community providers or workplaces.
  • Close Contact Exemption Scheme for household contacts: using RATS for asymptomatic healthcare and critical workforce.
  • Critical healthcare workers exemption for Cases: pathways based on where they work, mild and asymptomatic workers only.

Case investigation and contact tracing

Digital technology continues – a self-serve model – with cases supported to self-notify close contacts. Focus on support for those not digitally enabled.

Cases: 

 

  • Identified via positive PCR or RATs or symptoms
  • Notified by text and directed to complete COVID-19 Contact Tracing form online
  • Self-investigation tool targets very high-risk exposures, narrowing the numbers of contacts identified
  • Critical healthcare workers exemption for Cases: pathways based on where they work, mild and asymptomatic workers only.

Contacts:

  • Household Contacts to be identified via online self-investigation tool and notified by Case
  • Non-household contacts are not required to isolate but should stay home and test if unwell
  • Continued use of Bluetooth
  • Close Contact Exemption Scheme using RATs for asymptomatic healthcare and critical infrastructure workforce who are household contacts.

Isolation and quarantine

Cases: 

  • Isolate for 7 days (self-release after 7 days)

Household contacts of a Case:

  • Isolate until Case completes 7 days. Test Day 3 and Day 7 of the case’s isolation, or if symptomatic.

Close Contacts:

  • No requirement to isolate. Self-monitor for 10 days and test if symptomatic
  • Extra support in place for health and critical workforces.

Health and social support – care in the community

  • Majority of positive cases are self-management.
  • Clinical care is focused on anyone with high-needs
  • Wraparound health and welfare support services will focus on those who need it most
  • Support for positive cases to isolate in their usual place of residence. Some alternative accommodation capacity available for cases that are unable to safely isolate at home.

Phase One

Testing

  • PCR test for people that have symptoms and close contacts at GP or Community Testing Centre
  • PCR testing for international arrivals
  • Find testing sites closest to you here: Healthpoint.co.nz

Case investigation and contact tracing

Cases contacted as usual. 

Cases: 

  • Identified via positive PCR test
  • Notified by phone call and phone based case investigation

Contacts: 

  • Active management of close contacts
  • Close contacts notified by phone call 
  • Push notifications (QR scanning), Bluetooth and locations of interest used to identify contacts.

Isolation and quarantine

Cases: 

  • Isolate for 14 days

Close contacts:

  • Isolate for 10 days
  • Extra support in place for health and critical workforces.

Health and social support – care in the community

  • Begin shift to self-service – text/online
  • Some positive cases using self-service tools, such as online contact forms. 
  • Clinical care will be delivered by primary care teams, supported by the local care coordination hub. 
  • All steps taken to support positive cases to isolate in their usual place of residence, with alternative accommodation options across the regions.

Phase Two

Testing

  • Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) may be used in addition to PCR testing for symptomatic people and close contacts 
  • Critical worker close contact exemption scheme begins:  asymptomatic healthcare and critical workforce who are close contacts test daily using RATs. 
  • PCR testing to confirm diagnosis if positive RAT.

Case investigation and contact tracing

Digital technology is utilised more as cases grow – text via mobile phone and information via email. Support for those not digitally enabled.

Cases: 

  • Identified via positive PCR test
  • Notified by text and directed to complete COVID-19 Contact Tracing form online Self-investigation tool increasingly targeting high-risk exposures (events or locations)
  • Phone based interviews where required
  • Household contacts identified, test required
  • Cases are required to advise contacts and employers of positive status.

Contacts: 

  • Regular communication with household contacts
  • Close contacts notified via text, directed to website, test on day 5 (non-household contacts self-manage)
  • Push notifications (QR scanning), Bluetooth and Locations of Interest used to identify contacts
  • Close Contact Exemption Scheme using RATS for critical infrastructure workers if needed.

Isolation and quarantine

Cases: 

  • Isolate for 10 days (self-release after 10 days)

Household contacts of a Case:

  • Isolate until Case completes 10 days. Test Day 3 and Day 8 of the case's isolation, or if symptomatic

Close contacts:

  • Isolate for 7 days. Test Day 5 or if symptomatic
  • Extra support in place for health and critical workforces.

Health and social support – care in the community

  • Cases using self-service where possible, ensure those with greatest need are being met
  • Support by local care coordination hub for those with a need for ongoing clinical care. 
  • Other people with lower clinical risks, may contact external providers. 
  • Support for most positive cases to isolate in their usual place of residence. Alternative accommodation options across the regions are still available.

Related information

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