COVID-19: Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers

Information and guidelines for the community allied health sector.

You can find information on this page to know how to operate safely at Alert Level 2. It includes your responsibilities for contact tracing, getting staff back to work, cleaning and the use of personal protective equipment.

Operating at Alert Level 2

Telehealth and virtual appointments are still the preferred option in Alert Level 2. 

Clinicians can see patients face-to-face if the following processes are in place:

  • Screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to face-to-face appointments
  • Physical distancing measures during the appointment
  • Infection prevention control measures including using personal protective equipment (PPE) where required

Clinicians can travel within and to neighbouring regions to provide care to patients and receive training.

Group treatment (eg exercise classes) can occur so long as physical distancing is in place and groups are no larger than 100 people.

Screening for COVID-19 prior to face-to-face appointments

Prior to a face-to-face appointment, the patient shoul be asked the following screening questions:

  • Do they have new or worsening respiratory symptoms including one of the following: cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, coryza (runny nose) or temporary loss of smell, with or without fever?
  • In the last two weeks, have they been in contact with others who have been unwell with respiratory symptoms or fever, or are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19?

If the patient answers yes to either of these questions, you should not hold a face-to-face appointment. If you must do so, ensure the appropriate infection prevention control measures are in place.

Contact tracing

Clinicians will no longer be required to notify their Responsible Authority for seeing patients face to face in Alert Level 2. Accurate clinical notes should be kept aiding contact tracing if required.

Risk assessment of returning to the workplace

Employers are responsible for conducting risk assessments for staff moving back into work premises during Alert Level 2. This may include individual discussions with each staff member prior to returning to work.

Read more on the COVID-19 website

Personal protective equipment (PPE) use and cleaning

PPE – use of and where to get

The best defence against COVID-19 are basic hygiene measures, which include:

  • 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)
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • clean surfaces regularly

During Alert Level 2, the risk of community transmission is low or minimal. Your risk assessment should consider this when you are determining the correct level of PPE.

Clinicians should screen their patients for COVID-19 prior to a face-to-face appointment. This will allow clinicians to assess their own PPE requirements and their patients’ requirements before commencing face-to-face treatment. 

The level of PPE required for clinician and patient depends on the infection risk of the patient, and the nature of the care provided (in particular if there is likely to be contact with bodily fluids). 

If you cannot get PPE from your usual supplier, visit www.nxp.nz.

Read more information and guidance for PPE use in health care.

Respiratory physiotherapy guidelines for managing patients with COVID-19

Guidelines for managing patients with COVID-19, including respiratory physiotherapists PPE requirements, are available in the document below.

Cleaning

Normal cleaning processes are adequate in Alert Level 2, however you may wish to clean more often especially high touch surfaces.

You should not be treating people who are unwell (or people who are a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19) unless they require urgent treatment that cannot be delivered by a service elsewhere or by a clinician already in contact with the patient. There are extra cleaning precautions for rooms where a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been.

 

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