Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall
Minister of Health
· 7-days mandatory isolation, wearing of face masks for visitors to health care facilities removed
· Effective from 12:01am Tuesday 15 August
The Government is removing the remaining COVID-19 public health requirements, effective from 12:01am tomorrow, Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.
While fluctuations from week to week are expected, overall COVID-19 case rates, wastewater levels and hospitalisations have been trending downwards since the beginning of June and over the past month reported COVID-19 cases have hit their lowest levels since February 2022.
Public health officials have advised risk from COVID-19 is now considered low compared to other stages of the pandemic and it’s safe to remove the final requirements.
“While our case numbers will continue to fluctuate, we have not seen the dramatic peaks that characterised COVID-19 rates last year,” Ayesha Verrall said.
Covid has put considerably less pressure on the health system this winter and other illnesses have been better planned for and managed.
“This, paired with the population’s immunity levels, means Cabinet and I am advised we’re positioned to safely remove the remaining COVID-19 requirements,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“We’ve only reached this point thanks to the hard work and care New Zealanders have taken over the course of the pandemic.
“And while not mandated, the Ministry of Health guidance is to stay at home for five days if you’re unwell or have tested positive for COVID-19,” Ayesha Verrall said.
COVID-19 accounted for 2.2% of hospital admissions this morning and New Zealand has now likely passed the winter influenza peak.
“It has been a long road, however thanks to lots of hard work, New Zealand’s COVID-19 approach has moved from an emergency response to sustainable long-term management,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“Mask wearing remains an important way we can prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in health and disability care settings.
COVID-19 changed the world. It was an unknown to virtually all of us. I appreciate from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South the efforts Kiwis took to keep themselves and their community safe,” Ayesha Verrall said.
Notes to editors
Recommendations if you become unwell with COVID-19 symptoms:
· Stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
· If you, or someone in your household develops one or more of the following symptoms, you should take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for COVID-19: a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, loss of smell or taste, shortness of breath.
· If your RAT is positive, we recommend you isolate for 5 days and stay home until you feel well.
· Remember to register your RAT result at https://mycovidrecord.health.nz/ (or call the helpline at 0800 222 478 and choose option 1), so you can be connected with any help and support you might need.
Access to RATs:
- It’s important to ensure you have enough RATs at home in case anyone in the household becomes unwell and needs to test.
- People will want to ensure they have sufficient RATs in case of need.
- RATs will remain free for everyone throughout 2023. You can find out participating pick-up points for RATs and masks at https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/ or by calling 0800 222 478 and choosing option 1.
- Check the expiry date of any RATs you may already have to ensure they are valid to be used if someone in your household gets sick.
- If you live rurally, have a disability, are immunocompromised or experience challenges collecting the RATs yourself, call 0800 222 478, you might be eligible for a RAT delivery service.
- RATs are the recommended way to test for COVID-19. General practice and urgent care clinics can still do PCR testing, if required.
Medicines to treat COVID-19 (antivirals):
- Most people who get COVID-19 experience a mild to moderate illness. They can safely recover at home. Some people, like older people and kaumātua, and those with other health conditions, are at a higher risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19 and needing hospital level care.
- Antivirals are used to treat COVID-19. A 5-day course of tablets can be taken. These tablets reduce the amount of COVID-19 virus in your body, so you do not get as sick, and you are less likely to go to hospital.
- They can be provided by your doctor, Hauora provider, or a pharmacist without a prescription from your doctor. They must be started within 5 days of a person first becoming unwell with COVID-19.
- Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or Hauora provider if you think that you, or a member of your whānau, may be eligible for antiviral medicines. Find out more about this at covid19.govt.nz