COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment Central Supply

Information on PPE and the supply of PPE from the Ministry’s COVID-19 Central Supply to health care and border workers contributing to the COVID-19 response.

Last updated: 1 June 2021

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Overview

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for New Zealand's COVID-19 response is sourced and distributed as part of a nationally coordinated approach, managed by the Ministry of Health. A nationally coordinated approach enables supply directly to the groups that need PPE and overall stocktaking and management of supplies at a national level.

The Ministry’s COVID-19 PPE Central Supply services New Zealand’s health care workers and border workers that contribute to New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. Organisations are still expected to source their own PPE for non-health care workers e.g. patients at a general practice clinic without their own personal mask.

Organisations register for the online PPE Portal via Health Care Logistics or, if based in the Northern Region, Onelink. Once registered, organisations can place orders for PPE to be delivered to you.

PPE distributed from the COVID-19 PPE Central Supply has gone through a robust quality assurance process with verified documentation and product certification. Products are approved by the Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) Sub-Technical Advisory Group and the Clinical Oversight Group. These clinical groups consider all of the evidence to make informed decisions about whether products are fit for purpose in localised settings.

How the Ministry makes decisions around PPE

PPE from the COVID-19 Central Supply is provided to organisations in accordance with the direction set by Ministry’s IPC guidance and the current Alert Level settings.

The Ministry reviews and approves orders for PPE by considering evidence of an organisation’s PPE requirements at each Alert Level, including the number of staff, patients or residents and COVID-19 average weekly swabbing numbers where applicable.

The Ministry has also distributed contingency stock of PPE to providers, so they hold 1-2 weeks of PPE at estimated pandemic usage levels, use in the event of raised Alert Levels. The benefit of organisations holding and maintaining a contingency supply of PPE is that they have what they need to hand when they need it. We will review holdings regularly and replenish contingency as required. Contingency supply supports the Ministry to make considered decisions for PPE supply, as we get a greater understanding of the scale and spread in situations of community transmission of COVID-19.


Types of PPE held in Central Supply and when they should be used

The COVID-19 PPE Central Supply is comprised of 8 categories of PPE:

  • P2/N95 particulate respirators
  • Procedure masks - Type IIR / Level 2 and Level 3 masks
  • Isolation Gowns
  • Disposable Aprons
  • Gloves - Nitrile and Vinyl
  • Eye protection – Face-shields/visors and glasses/goggles
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Disinfectant Wipes

You should also follow IPC guidance for the use of PPE in specific settings that are applicable to you.  This includes the Interim guidance for the use of P2/N95 particulate respirators by general practice or urgent medical health care providers. See more on the health care workers or non-health workers pages.

Remember that PPE is just one measure to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. To protect yourself and those you interact with you should follow basic hygiene measures including remembering to:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
  • Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds) or use hand sanitiser when washing your hands is not practical
  • Avoid close contact with people if you feel unwell or if others are unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Clean surfaces regularly.

PPE Principles of Supply and eligibility

The Ministry, in partnership with health and disability system stakeholders, has developed Principles of Supply to guide the distribution of PPE from the COVID-19 PPE Central Supply.

Under this system:

  • district health boards (DHBs), managed isolation and quarantine facilities, border services, general practices and urgent care, pharmacies, aged residential care, disability support services and home and community support services, receive stock directly from the central supply in line with the principles for supply
  • private providers use their own networks to source and purchase PPE, unless identified by their DHB as requiring assistance for the provision of urgent health services within their region.

The current guidance for the supply of PPE is outlined in the table below. Note that there will be exceptions to the guidance, and the overarching principle is that PPE will be available to those who require it. Any situations where organisations are being supplied outside of the matrix will continue for the time being. If you have any queries about PPE supply and distribution email [email protected]health.govt.nz.

Principles for supply

  • The Central Supply enables PPE to be sourced to meet demand from essential publicly funded services that are in scope.
  • PPE for non-publicly funded services should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. The Ministry may provide PPE if commercial or retail suppliers are unable to source it, and it does not jeopardise the Central Supply.
  • The ability to pay is not a consideration in prioritising distribution from the central supply.
  • PPE must be used according to the relevant IPC guidance and processes published by the Ministry, and any orders from providers must be reasonable, evidence based and proportionate to demand.
  • In times of increased demand, decision-making criteria are used to understand where PPE is to be distributed first, based on the following:
    • the type of service that requires the PPE (criticality of the service, e.g. hospitals, CBAC)
    • vulnerability of the community for whom the service is intended (high risk populations)
    • the level of inventory: stock on order, on hand and consumption rates (manage risk with early identification of supply shortage)
    • urgency of need across the country (balancing competing demand).

Category

Service

Criteria

Guidance

Assessment

A

Critical essential services – Tertiary & Secondary services

PPE is a legislative or mandatory requirement for BAU work

Includes DHB healthcare services, ambulance services, diagnostic services, select non-health services (Customs, managed isolation facilities and managed isolation quarantine facilities).

Orders must be supported with appropriate usage and forecast information.

Full supply of PPE at all Alert Levels at no charge.

For non-DHB specific services, PPE is supplied in addition to regular PPE sourced for BAU activities.

B

Essential community health services that are publicly funded

Providing services into homes and unable to practise physical distancing

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes aged residential care, disability care services, lead maternity carers and home and community support services. This includes Māori and Pacific health and disability providers.

Need to confirm the purpose for which they are ordering in line with IPC guidance, and that any orders are proportionate to demand.

Steady state PPE quantities should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers in Alert Level 1. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

At Alert Levels 3 and 4 a full supply of PPE will be provided at no charge.

At Alert Level 2 PPE will be supplied at no charge, when supported by robust evidence of demand and forecasting information.  

At Alert Level 1 there will be no PPE supply. 

Full supply will be provided in the event of an outbreak in a facility.

All long-term residential facilities will be provided 1 week’s stock to store as a contingency in case of an outbreak in that facility or for use in levels 3 or 4.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert Level 1 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

C

Core essential health services that are publicly funded

Providing a core medical service to the public, and unable to practise physical distancing

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes general practice, urgent care, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, etc.

Need to confirm the purpose for which they are ordering in line with IPC guidance, and that any orders are proportionate to demand.

At all Alert Levels, where a general practice or urgent care clinic is carrying out swabbing for COVID-19 as part of the overall public health response in New Zealand, they will be supplied with the full PPE required. Further where general practice or urgent care clinics are undertaking a clinical assessment on patients with COVID symptoms as assessment for risk P2/N95 masks are also supplied in line with the interim guidance for the use of P2/N95 particulate respirators in general practice and urgent medical health care providers. Note: PPE will not be supplied for pre-departure testing for other jurisdictions which sit outside of New Zealand’s public health response.

At Alert Levels 3 and 4 PPE per IPC guidance will be provided at no charge.

At Alert Level 2 masks will be supplied at no charge, when supported by robust evidence of demand and forecasting information.

At Alert Level 1 there will be no PPE supply, with the exception of PPE that is supplied at all Alert Levels. PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers in Alert Level 1.

PPE provided from the central supply is not to be provided or on-sold to the general public.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert Levels 1 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

D

Non-essential health services

Unable to put in practical physical distancing measures or are working at the public interface.

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes non-essential allied health services, funeral directors, chiropractors etc.

PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

Do not supply from the central supply unless designated as an essential service at Levels 3 and 4.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert 2 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

E

Non-health essential services

Inability to practise physical distancing. Either non-public facing but staff that can be directed, or workers who require PPE for BAU work.

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes plumbers, electricians etc who go into homes, waste management etc.

PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

Do not supply from the central supply unless designated as an essential service at Levels 3 and 4.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert 2 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

How to use PPE

It’s important to use PPE correctly and safely for the work you are doing.

This guidance is based on the best available evidence and is in line with World Health Organization guidelines. It is regularly reviewed and updated.

It’s important to consider if you need PPE or not before putting it on. If a person’s COVID-19 status is unknown, there are some risk assessment questions you need to ask ideally ahead of the interaction (ie, phoning the client before visit or with signage at your health facility), or if not possible, while maintaining the required distance dependent on the current Alert Level for your region.

No matter what someone’s COVID-19 status is, you should always follow routine IPC precautions (Standard Precautions as well as any necessary Transmission Based Precautions) for all care.

Storing PPE

PPE should be stored in accordance with the instructions on the packaging – generally this includes being stored in a dry environment within appropriate temperature ranges.

Disposing of PPE

PPE that has been utilised in health care settings and possibly exposed to COVID-19 should be carefully disposed of.

In the hospital setting, used PPE should be discarded into a Biohazard waste bag as per hospital policy.

In the community, used PPE should be put into a separate bag and sealed before placing in the general waste.

Some PPE can be re-used, such as glasses and face shields/visors. Masks, aprons, gowns and gloves should not be reused.

PPE that has passed the expiry date as specified on the packaging should be disposed of in a way that reduces the risk of expired PPE inadvertently being utilised in a health care setting.

Frequently asked questions about PPE and COVID-19

View FAQs about PPE and COVID-19.

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