Personal protective equipment use in health care

Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in health care.

Last updated: 29 May 2020

Physical distancing, hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette are the first line of defence to reduce your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. PPE is not needed in all instances.

PPE use needs to be considered as part of a range of activities that reduce the risk of transmission of infection, when used correctly, and in the appropriate context. Before putting PPE on, remember to ask the key risk assessment questions about a person’s health status. 

In addition to standard precautions, you should use droplet and contact precautions with patients suspected of having COVID-19 and patients with acute respiratory and influenza-like illness.

For more information:

Guidance on the use of 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 will be updated as we move through this pandemic and the New Zealand context of COVID-19 evolves.

General PPE guidelines in health and disability care settings for COVID-19 Alert Level 2

These PPE guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Frequently Asked Questions.

It’s important to consider if you need PPE or not before putting it on. These two posters will help you decide based on whether you know the person you are interacting with has suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19, or whether it is unknown.

If a person’s COVID-19 status is unknown, there are some risk assessment questions you need to ask ideally ahead of the interaction, or if not possible, while maintaining at least 1 metre physical distancing.

No matter what someone’s COVID-19 status is, you should always follow routine infection prevention and control precautions (standard as well as any transmission-based) for all care.

PPE use in specific health and disability care settings

Posters and guidance specific to different health and disability care settings are also available. 

Find further information on PPE requirements for respiratory physiotherapists

See the COVID-19 Primary care quick reference guide for more information.

Putting on and taking off PPE

See the poster for putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) PPE safely. There is also a PPE instruction video produced by Auckland DHB to help you.

Hand hygiene posters and hand washing and PPE videos are also available.


Latest updates to this page

Our advice is under active review and is updated regularly as the COVID-19 context in New Zealand changes. The latest updates are detailed here.

29 May

  • Updated: Alert Level 2: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (15 May 2020)
    • Question 2 in the risk assessment flow chart has been updated to: 'In the last 14 days has the person been overseas or in contact with other people who are probable or confirmed to have COVID-19?'  Reference included to recent overseas travel and reference removed to ‘contact with other people who were unwell with respiratory symptoms and fever, or are suspected to have COVID-19.’ If the answer is 'yes' to question 2, we also now advise that the patient/client is provided a mask to wear (noting this is expected to be a rare occurrence in our current context). 
    • This was an anticipated amendment to be made two weeks from the move to alert level 2 if we continued to see reducing numbers of active COVID-19 cases in New Zealand and strengthening evidence that community transmission is low. 
    • This advice will continue to be updated as needed during alert levels based on the COVID-19 context in New Zealand. 
    • The updated document is titled and dated as follows: Alert Level 2: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (29 May 2020)
       
  • Updated: Frequently asked questions about PPE (15 May 2020)
    • The wording of the key risk assessment questions has been updated to be consistent with the updates to Alert Level 2: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (29 May 2020)
    • The use of N95/P2 respirators has been clarified as required for aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) only when working with a person whose status is COVID-19 suspected, probable or confirmed. Examples of dental procedures that generate aerosols have been added to the definition of AGPs. 
    • The updated document is titled and dated as follows: Frequently asked questions about PPE (29 May 2020)

15 May

  • Updated: Guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment use in Healthcare settings including care provided in homes (25 April 2020)
    • This has been updated to specifically give advice for PPE when caring for a COVID-19 case (suspected, probable or confirmed) in health and disability care settings, rather than also addressing requirements when caring for someone with unknown COVID-19 status.
    • The document is now called: Alert Level 2: PPE required when caring for a suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 case (15 May 2020).
    • It is intended as a high level reference document and is aligned with setting specific guidance developed in previous Alert Levels that is still available on this website.   
  • New: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (15 May 2020)
    • This flow chart has been created to assist the health and disability sector in completing risk assessments to determine the need for PPE when caring for people of unknown COVID-19 status. 
    • Risk assessment questions were previously listed in the Frequently Asked Questions document and the poster: PPE use for community care providers: requirements for providing care in people's homes.
  • Updated: PPE use for community care providers: requirements for providing care in people's homes (7 May 2020)
    • This has been updated to be consistent with Alert Level 2 guidance reflecting physical distancing of at least 1 metre, as opposed to 2 metres.
    • The new document is titled and dated as follows: PPE use for community care providers: requirements for providing care in people's homes (14 May 2020).
  •  Updated: PPE use in hospitals: A guide for staff caring for COVID-19 positive people in hospital (1 May 2020)
    • This has been updated as follows: to be consistent with Alert Level 2 guidance including referring to the new Alert Level 2: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (15 May); to include a comment to refer to local DHB guidance; to reflect inclusion of suspected, probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
    • The new document is now titled and dated as follows: PPE use in hospitals: A guide for staff caring for COVID-19 patients in hospital (15 May 2020).
  • Updated: PPE use for disability support and care workers: A guide when working in client’s homes (7 May 2020)
    • This has been updated to be consistent with Alert Level 2 guidance, including physical distancing. The importance of completing a risk assessment prior to the use of any PPE has also been emphasised in the table.
    • The new document is now titled and dated as follows: PPE use for disability support and care workers: A guide when working in client’s homes (15 May 2020).
  • Updated: PPE use in maternity settings: requirements to prevent COVID-19 (1 May 2020)
    • This has been updated to be consistent with Alert Level 2 guidance including referring to the new Alert Level 2: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (15 May)
    • The first table has been rationalised as duplication identified.
    • The new document is titled and dated as follows: PPE use in maternity settings: requirements to prevent COVID-19 (15 May 2020).
  • Updated: Frequently Asked Questions (23 April)
    • This has been updated to be consistent with Alert Level 2 guidance including referring to the new Alert Level 2: Risk assessment questions if COVID-19 status is unknown (15 May)
    • Included link to World Health Organization poster on Standard Precautions.
    • Updated physical distancing content.
    • The new document is titled and dated as follows: Frequently Asked Questions (15 May 2020).
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