COVID-19 response update

15.07.22 10:59 AM By WasteMINZ

Key things to note: 

  • The Government is rolling out additional measures to ease pressure on the health system.
  •  Increased access to antiviral medication for those most at risk.
  • RATs and masks will be provided free for individuals and households.
  • All of New Zealand remains at Orange. For more information about life at Orange, please visit https://covid19.govt.nz/orange, or see the resources below.

 

The Government is rolling out additional measures to ease pressure on the health system 

  • A spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations, the worst flu season in recent memory and corresponding staff absences are putting health workers and the whole health system under extreme pressure.
  • Modelling suggests we are at the beginning of a new Omicron wave that could be bigger than the first, and a more transmissible variant. 
  • We are continuing to ask New Zealanders to get vaccinated, wear a mask in many indoor settings and isolate when sick to slow the spread of the virus over the remaining winter months. If we all play our part we can take some pressure off the health system.   

 

Increased access to antiviral medication for those most at risk

  • It will be easier to access antiviral medication for those most likely to end up in hospital.
  • Antiviral medications can reduce the seriousness of COVID-19 meaning fewer people need to be hospitalised, so we are making these more widely available as pharmacy-only medications.
  • Te Pātaka Whaioranga - Pharmac has confirmed today that it is further widening access to the three antiviral treatments it funds for treating early COVID-9 to more than 400,000 more New Zealanders if they get the virus.
  • Pharmac funds nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (branded as Paxlovid), molnupiravir (branded as Lagevrio) and remdesivir, an infusion treatment (branded as Veklury) – all antivirals used in the community and Te Whatu Ora Hospitals to treat people with early COVID-19 at risk of severe illness.
  • From Monday 18 July anyone over 75 who has tested positive for COVID-19 or anyone who has been admitted previously to an Intensive Care Unit directly as a result of COVID-19, will be eligible to access antivirals through their GP.
  • To speed up access to antivirals, GPs can now provide back pocket prescriptions which means at-risk patients for acute respiratory illnesses can be preapproved and have their prescription ready should they become unwell and need the medicine immediately.

 

RATs and masks will be provided free for individuals and households

  • We are encouraging everyone who needs extra RATs or masks to head to a testing site or other location and collect a free pack for you and your whānau. There are no criteria, you don’t need to be unwell or have symptoms.
  • Wearing masks can reduce new cases of the virus by as much as 53 per cent. We are asking New Zealanders to keep up tried and tested measures: wearing a high quality mask, strong vaccine and booster uptake, antivirals and testing, which are highly effective and will put us in the best position to get through what is one of the toughest winters we’ve faced.
  • We are also providing 10 million child-size masks available for year 4-7 students in New Zealand and up to 30,000 masks a week for all other students and school staff, alongside extra funding to support better ventilation over winter.

 

New Zealand remains at Orange

  • With hospitals under pressure from flu and COVID-19, and numbers starting to creep up again, additional measures are being put in place to help reduce spread. 
  • Moving back to Red is unnecessary. New Zealand can continue to manage the virus at Orange, but a range of additional measures are being put in place to help manage a recent rise in cases.