Alert Level 2 questions and answers

Answers to common questions about health and disability services at Alert Level 2.

Page last updated: 31 August 2020

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Cancer and other treatments

What happens with my cancer treatment?

Patients and their support people can travel locally or to other parts of the country for cancer treatment. 

If you are using district health board national travel assistance, contact the coordinator to make sure they can provide the necessary transport and accommodation.

If you think you might have COVID-19, check with your doctor. COVID-19 can be very serious for people who have weakened immune systems. It is important that your doctor weighs up the benefits of the cancer treatment against its immunosuppressive risks.

For cancer patients who are unwell:

  • phone your cancer clinic to let them know you are unwell
  • if you are sick, hospital is still the safest place to be. Make sure you phone the hospital before you go there.

For cancer patients who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19:

  • most outpatient appointments will be virtual consultations, such as a phone conversation. You will be contacted by your cancer clinic with the details
  • your doctor will contact you to discuss your treatment.

It is important that you do not stop or make changes to your cancer treatment without talking to your doctor.

Why has the treatment for my health condition stopped?

No treatment should have stopped without discussion. Your treatment may have been postponed or an alternative treatment suggested. Please talk to your doctor if you are concerned.

All services are working hard to provide health care, while protecting people from COVID-19. However, there may be disruptions to treatment – for example, health workers may have needed to self-isolate.

Hospitals across the country have had different requirements placed on them by COVID-19, so specific treatments may be handled differently in each hospital. The Ministry of Health is supporting district health boards to provide the best care possible, during this time.

Visiting family or friends

Can I travel outside my local area to visit a family member or friend who is at or near the end of life?

You can travel between regions, but make sure you do it in a safe way. See the Unite Against COVID-19 website for more information about travelling within New Zealand safely.

Can family or friends visit people in disability residential services?

Families will need to plan and discuss visits with disability providers, given that each situation is likely to be different. Visits with agreed and named family and whānau and close friends are allowed, so long as they follow the providers’ guidelines. All such visits should be planned, taking care not to risk spreading COVID-19 to people who are older or who have underlying health conditions. See COVID-19: Advice for higher risk people for who is at risk.

The details of all visitors to disability residential services must be recorded in case contact tracing is necessary. The visit will need to be pre-arranged or booked and the visitor will register at reception or with the in-house manager.

Can I visit family or friends in hospital?

There are limits on the number of visitors and visits per patient per day, depending on the status of the hospital and the area the patient is in. Discretion may be applied by the hospital on a case by case basis. Phone the hospital to check the specific rules for that hospital first.

At all hospitals, for patients in areas considered high risk a maximum of one visitor at a time will be allowed and only one visit per day., Areas considered high risk include the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Specialist Care Baby Unit, Maternity (Antenatal Inpatient and Postnatal ward), Aged Care or any ward with COVID-19 positive patients.

Visiting must take place during usual visiting hours, unless there is a prior arrangement with the ward. When visiting relatives in hospitals it is important to follow precautions such as good hand hygiene and physical distancing.

The hospital will record visitors’ details, in case contact tracing is necessary. Visitors should be aware that they will be asked screening questions and may be refused entry to ensure patient, staff and public safety. 

Can I visit family or friends under maternity care?

Women in labour in a maternity facility will be allowed one support person for the duration of the labour and birth.

The limits for number of visitors and visits during a postnatal stay in a maternity facility are the same as for the rest of the hospital. Discretion may be applied by the hospital on a case by case basis. Phone the hospital to check the limits first.

Can someone visit a family member who is in a hospice?

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.

Speak to the hospice provider for further guidance.

Can a priest, imam or religious celebrant provide last rites in a hospital, hospice, or private residence under Alert Level 2? 

Yes – priests, imam and religious celebrants can provide last rites in a hospital, hospice or private residence under Alert Level 2. However, if the person receiving last rites has had COVID-19, careful arrangements should be made to avoid any risk of spreading the virus further.

If the person who is dying is in a health facility, they have to adhere with the visiting policy of the health facility and the relevant infection prevention and control procedures. 

Mental health

Where can I get help for my mental wellbeing?

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on how we interact with others and go about our lives. We know that a combination of stress and uncertainty can have significant and wide-reaching impacts on people’s mental wellbeing.

For further information and to access tools available to help see Mental health and wellbeing resources.

Can I access mental health services?

Community mental health services will use virtual or telephone appointments where possible. Face-to-face appointments may be provided as long as the health professionals and support staff can take appropriate measures to manage public health risks.

Urgent services will operate as usual.

In-home and disability services

Can my in-home care services resume?

Essential personal care services, such as toileting, washing and feeding, are provided as usual. Household management can continue if it can be undertaken safely: maintain physical distancing of 1-metre, good hygiene and infection prevention control practices, and record-keeping to support contact tracing. 

All equipment, housing and vehicle modifications can now go ahead if they can be done so safely: maintain physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and record-keeping to support contact tracing.

Can other disability services open?

All disability services can operate so long as they follow Alert Level 2 restrictions.

  • Day services and respite facilities will open in a limited way.
  • Hearing and vision services, rehabilitation therapies and child development services will operate.
  • Behaviour support services can now provide at-home visits and residential provider visits.
  • Disability and Information Advisory Services will operate.
  • Some Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) services will resume.

If disabled people and their families and whānau cannot access their usual supports, or would like to access a different kind of disability support during COVID-19, please see Getting disability support for further information.

Accessing health services

Where can I get tested for COVID-19 at Alert Level 2?

Testing for COVID-19 is done at Community Based Assessment Centres, designated practices, and general practices..

For more information see Assessment and testing.

Can I see my doctor at Alert Level 2?

General practices remain open at all alert levels. Appointments will be conducted online or by telephone where possible, with face-to-face consultations available if required.

Can I get a flu vaccine?

Yes – contact your general practice or pharmacy. Priority is given to vulnerable populations; see the influenza page for more information about flu vaccines.

Can I go to the dentist?

Community dental services are open for routine, urgent and emergency care for people without COVID-19 or suspicion of COVID-19.

Confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, close contacts of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and people waiting for test results, can receive urgent and emergency dental treatment with clinicians, as long as they meet PPE and room requirements.

Can I see a physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, optometrist or podiatrist? Will they be able to physically treat me?

These appointments will be mainly online or over the phone. Some face-to-face appointments may be provided id health professionals can take measures to manage public health risks. 

Can I visit a skin care specialist if I'm concerned about moles?

Please check with your general practice first.

Can I see my midwife in person?

Discuss this with your midwife. Community midwives will provide services in a variety of ways, including face-to-face and on-line appointments. Antenatal and newborn screening programmes will continue.

Can I visit a medical practice for non-emergency procedures?

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

Essential care continues, such as management of long-term conditions, mental health consultations, prescriptions of medication, the treatment of common illness, influenza vaccinations, childhood immunisations and cervical screening. 

Can I access drug and alcohol services in person?

Yes, if necessary – these services will be provided over the phone where possible, but face-to-face services may be provided as long as health professionals take measures to manage public health risks. 

Can I get my child or myself immunised?

Yes – essential preventative care including childhood immunisations continue.

I need a repeat prescription – can I pick this up? 

Yes – pharmacies and general practices are open. Virtual appointments will be conducted where possible and repeat prescriptions can be issued online.

Can a medical specialist visit me at home for non-urgent treatment?

Medical specialists can only carry out home visits for urgent and non-deferrable care, including palliative care.

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