COVID-19: Surveillance plan and testing strategy

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Surveillance Plan

The New Zealand COVID-19 Surveillance Plan sets out the overall approach to surveillance of COVID-19 in New Zealand, as one of the core pillars of the overall strategy of disease elimination. National COVID-19 surveillance systems operate to provide information about the characteristics of the disease in New Zealand and the effectiveness of the response.

This plan sets out the current aims and objectives, key surveillance activities and areas of ongoing development. As we learn more about the nature of COVID-19 and understand more about our response capabilities, then aspects of the surveillance system will adapt in order to address emerging questions and priorities. The framework of key surveillance questions and the specific information products to address them are summarised below.

Implementation of the surveillance and testing approach is reviewed weekly.


Testing Strategy

New Zealand's national testing strategy (for June to August 2020) implements a five-part national system to detect and eliminate new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Plain english version

Technical version


Testing Implementation Plan

We work together with the broader health sector to implement our testing strategy.

The following documents give an outline of the implementation programme:


COVID-19 testing in Alert Levels 3 and 2 to support New Zealand’s elimination strategy

This paper provides an overview of the Ministry of Health’s approach to testing for COVID-19 throughout Alert Level 3 and into Alert Level 2. 

The four objectives of this testing approach are:

  • Quickly identifying all cases of COVID-19, in order isolate them and trace and quarantine their contacts, including as part of managing cluster outbreaks
  • Ensuring that access to testing is equitable – for Mâori and Pacific people and other priority groups, as well as across the country.
  • Identify any undetected community spread in New Zealand
  • Monitoring for any COVID-19 in people at higher risk of exposure to help ensure the safety systems in place are working.

This testing approach is part of the broader surveillance plan for COVID-19 that the Ministry of Health, DHBs and the All-Of-Government group are implementing to both address and monitor our progress in eliminating COVID-19. 

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