In January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organization.
The most up-to-date COVID-19 information and health advice is available on the Ministry of Health website. For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS.
New government COVID-19 website
A new website www.covid19.govt.nz has been launched by the New Zealand Government. It brings together all the relevant information about COVID-19 in one place.
We have published a new section on our website called talkingCOVID to support health care workers. The aim of this web content is to provide support via a toolkit to help navigate care planning and decision-making in an empathetic and person-centric way in the current changing environment. As people working in health care, we recognise these are unprecedented times.
The resources on these pages are designed to help clinicians have conversations about what matters most to their patients and their whānau. They are easily accessed, clear and consistent, and are based on sound principles, evidence and experience.
Hand hygiene resources
To help with the response, the Health Quality & Safety Commission is making the hand hygiene resources below available free-of-charge, until stocks run out. After this, PDFs of the resources will continue to be available.
Hard copy resources can be ordered through the Commission’s website using this link: http://bit.ly/orderhandhygiene.
Update to the disability community and sector on COVID-19 from Adri Isbister, Deputy Director-General Disability, Ministry of Health (Monday 16 March 2020)
I would like to assure you that the Disability Directorate is taking the response to COVID-19 very seriously. Keeping individuals, families and whānau, and communities safe and healthy in the current global environment is a key priority for us.
We recognise that some disabled people may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Some disabled people and their families and whanau may be significantly impacted if their care and support workers get COVID-19. Therefore, we are focused on ensuring continuity of supports for disabled people and working to ensure the whole of government response to COVID-19 meets the needs of disabled people.
Last week we established a COVID-19 Disability Sector Leadership Response Group who are working with us closely to plan and implement our response to COVID-19. This group involves disabled people, unions, providers, and officials coming together to identify and work through disability-specific COVID-19 issues.
We have new information sheets for disabled people and their family and whanau, and providers with more information about what to do to keep yourself safe and well, and what to do if you’re sick. These will be available on our website on Tuesday, 17 March 2020 at: www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus. We are developing more information all the time and will keep you posted when it becomes available. For example, we are working on advice about leave provisions for staff, and protections for vulnerable populations.
We are urging people to continue to follow key health advice:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
Follow the Prime Minister’s advice to stop hand shakes, hugs and hongi
Avoid contact with people who are feeling unwell or may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
If you are feeling unwell at all, even if you think it’s just a cough or a cold, stay at home.
The Ministry of Health website is constantly updated with the latest health advice at www.health.govt.nz.
You and your family and whānau would normally take extra precautions during winter to stop yourselves getting sick, so it is a good idea to start those now. This could include making sure all medication is up to date and you have some spare at home, buying a little extra non-perishable food at each grocery shop, and making sure you have some close family, whānau or friends you can reach out to for support.
Please distribute this, and any other information you get from us, to disabled people, families and whānau, carers, and staff as appropriate for your organisation.
For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS. For advice about general government support you can check out www.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
If you have questions about your disability supports in relation to COVID-19 then contact your disability support provider, individualised funding host provider, or your NASC. All disability providers should be planning to ensure services continue.
Again, this response is currently our top priority. We will continue to update you with new information as it comes in.