The key features of Phase 2 are a reduction in isolation periods required for cases (down to 10 days) and contacts (down to seven days); the use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to allow critical workers who are close contacts of a case to be able to go to work if they test negative; and a greater use of digital tools to support cases and contacts. There will continue to be a strong focus on vaccination.
Cases will now be notified by text message. The message will provide links to information on self-isolation, how to tell others you have COVID-19, how to look after yourself and what help is available. Those who test positive will fill in a web-based form to help ensure that those with the highest needs, either health or welfare, are prioritised and managed accordingly. This might be, for example, if a person is immunocompromised or has an underlying illness that would be severely impacted by contracting COVID-19.
Cases will self-identify their close contacts online for contact tracing purposes and to help identify high risk exposure events. They will also be required to inform their employer themselves.
“Notifying cases by text will speed up the process and help reduce spread as cases can be contacted quickly - as soon as a positive result is confirmed by the laboratory- and isolate early. Their contacts can then also isolate early.”
Phone-based interviews will continue by public health case investigators where required. This might include cases at Aged Residential Care facilities and those who don’t have a mobile phone or computer.
Cases and household contacts will now isolate for 10 days with Day 1 being when the case receives their first positive test. Household contacts will need to test at Day 3 and 8 or if they become symptomatic. Non-household close contacts will isolate for seven days and test on Day 5 or if they become symptomatic.
Contacts will also be notified via text message and will receive links to the information they need to self-manage. QR scans, Bluetooth and location of interest will continue to be used to identify contacts along with the cases own recollection of who they have interacted with, or where they have been.
As part of the move to Phase 2 of the Omicron Response Plan, a Section 70 Notice is now in place for Cases requiring them to isolate for 10 days from exposure. An additional Section 70 Notice relating to both close contacts and household contacts isolation and testing requirements is also now in place. https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-response-planning/covid-19-epidemic-notice-and-orders
The critical worker close contact exemption scheme has begun for symptomatic healthcare and critical workers, for those who have a negative test daily using a RAT. The results of RATs can also be self-recorded in My Covid Record, alongside PCRs.
The COVID-19 Health Hub will go live on Thursday enabling better support to be delivered by linking cases to the closest geographical providers
For more information https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus