Health and disability services at Alert Level 3

Information on how we access health and disability services at Alert Level 3.

Last updated: 7 October 2020

All of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1.

Find out more on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

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At Alert Level 3

Key things to understand 

  • Services will open and operate normally where possible, while managing public health risks.
  • Businesses or services may operate but should have systems and processes in place to ensure appropriate physical distancing is maintained and contact tracing is supported.
  • Strict hygiene measures and physical distancing measures will remain in place.
  • Infection prevention and control principles must be adhered to across the system.
  • Testing for COVID-19 will continue at community-based assessment centres (CBACs), designated practices, and some general practices.

Hospitals 

Hospitals remain open for emergency care

  • Some planned care, including elective surgery and radiology, will be provided.
  • Some non-urgent services or treatment may be deferred.
  • Outpatient appointments will continue but will be mainly online or over the phone.
  • Visitors with no suspicion of COVID-19 will be allowed one-at-a-time, once a day. The number of visitors allowed per patient per day depends on where they are, and discretion may be applied on a case-by-case basis. Check with the DHB first.
  • Women in labour in a maternity facility will be allowed one support partner, from her extended bubble for the duration of the labour and birth.

General practices

General practices will be open, but appointments will still be conducted online or by phone where possible. You can see your doctor or nurse face-to-face if required.

  • Your doctor or nurse will continue to provide care for urgent issues, management of long-term conditions, mental health consultations, prescriptions of medication and the treatment of common illness.
  • Patients will be referred to specialists and for other treatment if needed.
  • It is important to still contact your health professional or Healthline (0800 611 116) as you normally would. You can access all the treatments, vaccinations and medicines you need to stay well, whether or not the care you need relates to COVID-19.
  • Cervical and breast screening programmes will operate under Alert Level 3 at this stage.

Community health services

  • Community pharmacies remain open, but medicine management services will be provided over the phone where possible. Medicines may continue to be delivered to some people.
  • Community midwives will provide services in a variety of ways, including face-to-face and on-line appointments.
  • Community dental services may provide face-to-face appointments for urgent or emergency care. Routine care (non-essential and elective dentistry) will not be provided. Updates are provided on the Dental Council website.
  • Appointments for allied health services such as physiotherapy, podiatry, optometry and Well Child Tamaraki Ora services will continue to be mainly online or over the phone. Some face-to-face appointments may be provided for urgent appointments only, so long as professionals can take appropriate measures to manage public health risks.

Screening services

Cancer screening programmes are continuing to operate, with appropriate safeguards in place to keep participants and staff safe. It is recommended that people over 70, or with pre-existing medical conditions, check with their health professional as to whether it is safe to attend appointments.  

  • Cervical and breast screening will continue for most women. The decision to screen those with existing medical conditions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Bowel screening invitations and home testing kits will continue to be sent out. If you receive a kit in the mail you should complete it and send it back as soon as possible.
  • More information about bowel, breast and cervical screening can be found on the Time to Screen website.

Antenatal and newborn screening services will continue to be provided but with some changes to ensure the ongoing safety of women and babies. More information can be found on the National Screening Unit website.


Disability and aged care services 

  • Disability residential care will continue as usual.
    • Any visitors will need to discuss with disability providers. Controlled visits with agreed and named family and whānau and close friends are allowed. A maximum of one visitor at any one time may visit the disabled person in their home.
  • In aged residential care, only family visits for end of life / palliative care residents will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Family visits for residents in a hospice are allowed, but on a case-by-case basis, subject to public health direction and the hospice's assessment.
  • Planned respite services will be suspended, but urgent respite care may be provided.
  • Essential personal care services, such as toileting, washing and feeding, will be provided as usual.
  • Some home help, such as house cleaning, may be available.

Mental health and addiction services

  • Inpatient and residential mental health and addiction services will operate as usual, although there may be fewer beds available, to reduce the possibility of infection.
  • Community mental health service appointments will be online or by phone where possible. There may be some face-to-face appointments.
  • Urgent and crisis community mental health services will continue as usual.
  • There is a range of welfare, mental health and wellbeing programmes underway to provide support to New Zealanders.

More information on Alert Level 3

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