Health and disability services at Alert Level 2

Information on how we access health and disability services at Alert Level 2.

Alert Levels update

Auckland is currently at Alert Level 4.

All of New Zealand outside of Auckland is at Delta Alert Level 2.

More information about the current situation can be found on the COVID-19 homepage.

Information about what to do at different alert levels can be found on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Last updated: 9 September 2021

At Alert Level 2, there are differences in how we access health and disability services. These are summarised below.

On this page:


What you must do when visiting all health care facilities

  • Some Alert Level 2 settings have been strengthened due to the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, and particularly in shared spaces.
  • Masks and face coverings are mandatory for visitors to a health care facility (if you have a medical condition or disability that makes it difficult to wear a mask, do not enter the facility unannounced. Please phone ahead to your health care provider so they can make arrangements to assess you safely).
  • Checking in is requried for all visitors to health and aged care facilities by providing your details using the COVID Tracer app or recording your visit manually for contact tracing.
  • When you make an appointment that requires a visit in person, you will be asked questions around possible COVID-19 exposure and symptoms, this is to keep you and others safe.

Health care at Alert level 2

  • Services will open and operate normally where possible, while managing public health risks.
  • If you are unsure about what you can access in your area, please check with your local health provider or DHB.
  • Infection prevention and control principles must be adhered to across the system.
  • Health care workers or support workers providing care in all health care settings must wear a mask. This includes workers providing care to people in their own home and in aged residential care facilities.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations will continue under alert level 2 conditions. You can call the COVID-19 vaccination advice line 0800 28 29 26 (8am - 8pm 7 days a week)
  • COVID-19 testing will continue at community-based assessment centres (CBACs) and general practices
  • For health advice you can call:
    • COVID-19 Healthline 0800 358 5453 for COVID 19 health advice anytime.
    • Healthline 0800 611 116 for other health advice and information, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • If it’s a medical emergency – call 111. (A medical emergency includes chest pain or tightness, difficulty breathing, choking, severe bleeding or bleeding that won’t stop, sudden weakness or difficulty talking, fainting or unconsciousness). Emergency ambulance services continue to operate across New Zealand at all alert levels – see below.

Hospitals 

  • Hospitals operate in line with the National Hospital Response Framework
  • If you need urgent medical attention – such as a medical emergency or going into labour – follow the normal procedures. For emergencies call 111 for an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
  • Planned care, including elective surgery and radiology, will be provided in order of clinical priority.
  • Some routine treatment or healthcare appointments may be rescheduled.
  • Outpatient appointments continue but may be mainly online or over the phone.
  • Cancer treatment will continue. For more information please visit Te Aho o Te Kahu, Cancer Control Agency.
  • Women in labour in a maternity facility will be allowed one support partner for the duration of the labour and birth.
  • Visitors should check with the DHB first about whether visitors are allowed, as this may vary by ward in the hospital.

Emergency ambulance services

  • Emergency ambulance services, including road ambulance and air ambulance, continue to operate throughout all COVID-19 alert levels.
  • Emergency road ambulance services are provided by St John and Wellington Free Ambulance (for Wellington and the Wairarapa).
  • All emergency ambulance providers adhere to strict infection prevention and control principles to help protect paramedics and patients from the risk of COVID-19.
  • Please tell the call taker and paramedics if you may have been exposed to COVID-19. This will ensure that they able to use the appropriate PPE (eg, masks and gloves) to keep themselves and others safe while treating and transporting you. 

Community health services

  • Primary and community health providers will operate in line with the Community Response Framework.
  • Urgent acute care is conducted in person, maintaining public health guidelines. Routine treatment or healthcare appointments are prioritised to those with highest need and conducted via phone or video calls where possible.
  • When you make an appointment that requires a visit in person, you will be asked questions around possible COVID-19 exposure and symptoms, this is to keep you and others safe.

General practices and allied health services such as physiotherapy, podiatry, optometry will be open, and your team will continue to be available.

  • Face to face appointments will become available again, however many consultations will be undertaken in a well-ventilated space or via video call, phone or patient portal to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
  • It is important to contact your health professional. When you call, you will likely be asked some questions to decide if an online, phone or in person appointment is required.
  • You can continue to access all the treatments, vaccinations and medicines you need to stay well, whether or not the care you need relates to COVID-19. You will be referred to specialist care for further treatment as needed.

Community pharmacies remain open and all pharmacy services continue. Some services will use online/phone, with in-person services available for people who do not have reliable access to technology and the internet.

Community midwives will provide services in a variety of ways, including face-to-face and on-line appointments. Read more information for pregnant women, and those who have recently given birth.

Community dental services will provide routine dental care and urgent or emergency dental care for those patients who fall into the low risk category, and may provide only urgent or emergency care for patients who fall into the high risk category. Updates are provided on the Dental Council website.

Well Child Tamaraki Ora services will continue appointments mainly online or over the phone. Some face-to-face appointments may be arranged on a case-by-case basis, 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 

  • Aged and disability residential care continues under all alert levels. All services will follow COVID-19 risk screening and infection prevention control, physical distancing measures, and record people’s details to enable contact tracing. PPE guidance is to be followed. Extra consideration will be given to how at-risk resident’s health will be protected.
  • Home based personal care services, such as showering and feeding, and home help, such as cleaning, are available. Infection prevention and control measures, such as face covering, must be adhered to for essential care services that require close physical contact. Staff movement should be minimised between homes and household management activities should maintain physical distancing where possible.
  • Equipment and modification services are now available following Alert Level 2 rules.
  • General family visits and non-essential service visits are allowed; however, providers will take precautions and manage visiting in a controlled way to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission to residents and staff. Visitors must wear face coverings and follow the mandatory record keeping requirement when visiting a residential facility
  • Planned and urgent respite care within aged residential care is available.
  • Limited facility-based respite services for disabled people are allowed at Level 2.
  • Facilities will contact disabled people and families and whānau to let them know how they will operate following Alert Level 2 rules.
  • NASC, day programmes, health promotion activities and other community supports can operate if done safely and following limits and rules for the gathering of people.

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. Read more at COVID-19: Mental health and wellbeing resources.

More information on Alert Level 2

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