Our COVID settings have recently changed. Effective from 12:01am Tuesday 15 August - the last remaining mandatory requirements for 7-day isolation periods and the wearing of face masks for visitors to healthcare facilities have been removed.
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions that we have heard from the community.
Do I still need to register a positive COVID result?
It is important that if you have cold and flu-like symptoms you take a RAT test and register your result. If you need help registering your result call the Health Support Hub in Tairāwhiti at 0800 825 288
Do I still have to isolate if I have a positive RAT result?
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, it’s recommended you isolate for 5 days even if you only have mild symptoms - isolation starts from Day 0, which is the day your symptoms started or when you tested positive, whichever came first.
This means you should not go to work or school. You should discuss your return to work with your employer or your child’s return to school with their school principal, as your employer or your school may require additional precautions.
What if I’m a close contact of someone with COVID-19?
If you, or a household member, test positive for COVID-19, other people living with you are also at higher risk of becoming infected. We recommend that all household contacts continue to test daily with a RAT from the day the person with COVID-19 tests positive. Close contacts are not required to isolate so can support you by doing the shopping, collecting your medications, etc. They should wear masks and practice good hand hygiene when out and about.
You are considered to be a household contact if you live with, or have spent at least one night or day (more than 8 hours) with, someone who has COVID-19. Household contacts should test daily for 5 days using a RAT.
How long do I have to isolate if I test positive?
The Ministry of Health recommends that you stay at home for 5 days.
What happens after I’ve completed my recommended isolation period?
If your symptoms have resolved and you feel well, you can return to your normal activities.
We recommend you wear a mask if you need to visit a healthcare facility or an aged residential care facility, or you have contact with anyone at risk of getting seriously unwell with COVID-19 up until 10 days after your symptoms started or you tested positive. This is because some people are infectious for up to 10 days.
If you still feel unwell, we recommend you stay home until you have recovered. If you do need to leave the house, we recommend you wear a mask and do not visit a healthcare facility (other than to seek medical attention), or an aged residential care facility, or have contact with anyone at risk of getting seriously unwell with COVID-19.
You don’t need to do another RAT after testing positive. But if you are concerned you may still be infectious after isolating for 5 days, testing negative with a RAT provides a good indication that you are unlikely to be infectious. You may still wish to wear a mask if you have contact with someone at risk of serious illness and some facilities may still require all visitors to wear masks.
Do I need to get a medical certificate for work if I need to isolate?
Check with your employer, but in most cases, your COVID Registration Confirmation text message will be sufficient evidence that you have COVID and should not be at work.
Can I get antiviral medication if I test positive?
You can get a prescription for antivirals from your doctor or hauora provider. Some pharmacies can supply antivirals without a prescription.
You can get free antiviral medicines if you:
- have COVID-19 and symptoms or you are a Household Contact and have symptoms, and
- became sick within the last 5 days, and
- meet one of the additional antiviral eligibility criteria.
Eligible people include:
- Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or over
- everyone aged 65 or over
- anyone aged 50 or over, who has not completed a primary course of vaccination
- anyone with a severely weakened immune system
- anyone with Down syndrome
- anyone with sickle cell disease
- anyone who has previously been in critical high dependency hospital care from COVID-19
- anyone with 3 or more high-risk medical conditions.
Full eligibility can be found here.
Can I see my GP if I test positive but feel really unwell?
Contact your Medical Practice. Let them know you have tested positive for COVID-19 when making an appointment. They will let you know what you need to do.
Who can I contact for help and advice about COVID?
Takatu Hub is the local Tairawhiti support hub for COVID and wellness advice. Call Takatu Hub weekdays between 9am and 4pm on 0800 825288.
You can call Healthline on 0800 611 116 anytime for free health advice and information.
If it’s an emergency, call 111.
For further advice visit the COVID-19 Health Hub (covid19.health.nz) or call the COVID Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
The dedicated Disability Helpline (0800 11 12 13 or text 8988) has been supporting members of the disability community with testing, face mask exemptions and managing COVID at home. The helpline team can also help with:
• any general health concerns
• if a support worker/carer is unavailable or hasn’t arrived
• connecting you with information and support you need.
If you need communication assistance, you can access using the NZ Relay Service. A person with experience or knowledge of disability will answer your call from 8am – 8pm. After 8pm, calls are answered by a trained member of the Healthline team.
Do I have to wear a mask if I go to the hospital or other clinical health facility?
It’s recommended, not required, you wear a face mask when visiting healthcare services. Please respect their policy on mask wearing when visiting, as you may be asked to wear a mask in particular situations or locations within a healthcare facility to help protect those at higher risk.