Links to COVID-19 information and resources are on this web page, informed by our regular contact with Government agencies including Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health, ACC and the Physiotherapy Board. For the most current and accurate information please refer to Government websites. PNZ member emails on COVID-19 are available here.
Please note this is a summary of current guidance as we understand it and not a substitute for legal advice. Please seek advice from a lawyer should you wish to understand how the information applies to your specific circumstances.
Updated December 2022
As of 12 September 2022 the Government has removed the COVID-19 Protection Framework and most COVID-19 rules have ended in New Zealand. You must still isolate for 7 days if you have COVID-19. Information for the public is available at covid19.govt.nz and for health professionals on the Te Whatu Ora website, includng advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers.
Masks are strongly recommended in high risk settings
MoH Chief Allied Health Professions Officer Dr Martin Chadwick wrote on 13 September 2022:
- While health workers and patients/residents on the premises of a health service are not required to wear a mask under COVID-19 Public Health Response (Masks) Order (2022), practitioners should still complete a risk assessment to determine the appropriate use of PPE for their own clinical environment.
- Mask use may still be indicated where there is a risk of transmission or (for example) where there may be vulnerable patients. PPE is considered as part of Standard Precautions which are a set of IPC measures required for all healthcare interactions. A risk assessment is required before every interaction, and/or every session, with a patient/client or resident by the healthcare worker. When a patient/client or resident is suspected or confirmed to have a transmissible infectious disease, then Transmission-based Precautions should be followed.
- It is strongly recommended that healthcare workers follow the infection prevention and control recommendations for health and disability care workers outlined here.
- Some premises may establish additional mask requirements if they feel necessary based on their own circumstances and local assessment of degree of risk and relevant legal requirements.
- If you are at higher personal risk or you want to reduce your risk of becoming unwell mask use is strongly recommended.
- If you are in situations where the ‘three Cs’ make the spread of the virus most likely mask use is strongly recommended:
- closed spaces with poor ventilation (e.g., small meeting rooms)
- crowded places with many people nearby (e.g., crowded buses or trains)
- close-contact settings, especially where people have close-range conversations, (including singing or shouting).
The risk increases when you’re in a setting that involves one or more of the ‘three Cs’ for a prolonged period of time.
Having a highly vaccinated workforce continues to be one of our strongest tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
In addition, we strongly encourage you to wear a mask in the workplace in situations where the ‘three Cs’ apply, if you’re at higher risk of severe illness, you want to reduce your risk of becoming unwell, or if you’re a household contact during the 5 days you are testing. Please also keep up good hand hygiene, and if you’re unwell please stay home and test.
The vaccination mandate for health and disability workers ended on 26 September 2022. A MoH message states that "the mandate is no longer needed now the affected workforce has a very high vaccination rate (estimated to be greater than 95 percent), and vaccination has a reduced overall efficacy against Omicron transmission."
"Some businesses and organisations may choose to continue COVID-19 vaccination requirements through employment contracts - for example, the Te Whatu Ora active vaccination policies across each of the districts and entities will remain in place until a national policy has been agreed."
Infection Prevention and Control
Te Whatu Ora has guidance on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices and PPE in health and disability care settings for COVID-19 available at tewhatuora.govt.nz. This includes advice on patient COVID-19 IPC risk assessment.
Additionally the PNZ Cardio-Respiratory Special Interest Group (CRSIG) advise that particulate respirators (P2/N95) are recommended when treating an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, noting that particulate masks will not be effective without a tight seal. MoH have information on masks and particulate respirators and those who need to be fit tested can find more on providers at nzohs.org.nz.
Government information on COVID-19 support for businesses is available at business.govt.nz and PNZ has a webpage with COVID-19 Business Information and FAQs. PNZ also has COVID-19 Telehealth Guidelines including a Telehealth for Physiotherapists webinar with Dr Angela Cadogan and Practical Tips to Get You Up and Running with Dr Mark Fulcher.
PNZ hosted a December 2021 webinar on delivering physiotherapy under the COVID-19 Protection Framework with law firm Duncan Cotterill and insurance partners BMS, with further guidance in our COVID-19 member emails. MBIE have general advice on managing the impact of COVID-19 cases at your business and our employment support partner Humankind have provided a COVID-19 guide to supporting and paying your employees.
A Clinical Rehabilitation Guideline for People with Long COVID in Aotearoa New Zealand is available at health.govt.nz, with many thanks to the Cardio-Respiratory Special Interest Group (CRSIG) for their contribution to this guideline and in particular CRSIG Chair Jen Mepham who was on the Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health Expert Advisory Group.
The CRSIG have also written Respiratory Physiotherapy Guidelines for Managing Patients with COVID-19 Infection and provided links to Physiotherapy Management for COVID-19 in the Acute Hospital Setting and Respiratory Physiotherapy in Patients with COVID-19 Infection in Acute Setting. The Paediatric Special Interest Group (PSIG) have guidance for physiotherapists working in schools.
The covid19.govt.nz website offers advice for looking after your mental wellbeing, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui have resources to help cope with COVID-19, and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand have a web page on support to get through COVID-19.
Rehabilitative Interventions in COVID-19 Survivors
This document provides an expert-based opinion on Early and Short-Term Rehabilitative Interventions (After the Acute Hospital Setting) in COVID-19 Survivors. Please note this is a living document. Information is in the document on how input from peers can be sent to the group.
A document from BMS on COVID-19 is available here. Please note the following advice regarding BMS insurance and telehealth services. Telehealth is an acceptable practice provided it’s considered within the scope of your individual practice. Your professional indemnity policy with BMS has a jurisdictional limitation within New Zealand. The policy terms and conditions will still apply in the event of a claim." BMS can be contacted at 0800 999 267 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Older Adult Super Seven Strength and Balance Exercises
In response to COVID-19, a team of DHB clinical leaders identified a need for an exercise programme designed to be done safely at home for older adults known to community services. Collated by Liz Binns and Denise Taylor (AUT University), with input from Ricky Bell (Waikato Institute of Technology), John Parsons (The University of Auckland) and a number of DHB colleagues, the Super Seven Strength and Balance Exercises are available here.
Page updated December 2022