Health Alerts

CORONAVIRUS 2019-nCoV: Current Board Advice to Parents:

15/3/2020:

 

1) Heightened vigilance is required when considering sending children who may be feeling unwell in to school. In the event of fever, general headache/malaise, coughing and/or sneezing/runny nose, children must not be sent to school under any circumstances. Any children presenting or developing these symptoms while at school will be isolated in sickbay and parents will be asked to collect them and seek medical advice. Please take a cautious approach and keep your child at home if in any doubt.

2) We request that you keep your child at home and observe a self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of your return to NZ, if they or a member of your immediate household has:

  • been present in, or transited through, Northern Italy, Iran, South Korea or mainland China or any other notified country. Mainland China includes all of China, but not Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR, and not Taiwan.

  • were a passenger or crew on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, or any other notified cruise ship, within 14 days of disembarking from the cruise ship

3) In addition, we request that you contact us for individual advice if your child or a member of your immediate household has arrived after 1:00am on Monday 16 March from any country other than those listed below, as these now require self-isolation for 14 days. Please note the exception of the following countries, which are currently exempt from the self-isolation requirements:

  • Cook Islands

  • Fiji

  • Kiribati

  • Marshall Islands

  • Federated States of Micronesia

  • Nauru

  • New Caledonia

  • Niue

  • Palau

  • Papua New Guinea

  • Samoa

  • Solomon Islands

  • Tonga

  • Tuvalu

  • Vanuatu

  • Tokelau

  • Wallis and Futuna

    

After a self-quarantine period if required, children who have not developed symptoms can return to school. Please use the school's absence form and we will be in touch to advise/confirm as soon as possible

This advice is under ongoing review -  information and updates will be posted here

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Update - Thursday, 19/3/2020: Ministry of Health

New Zealand has 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19. For a summary of the current status see our latest media release (19 March). More information is available on our current cases page. With continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

Most travellers who have arrived in New Zealand within the last 14 days are being asked to self-isolate – see Self-isolation to find out more.

If you have been overseas within the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453

Update - Wednesday, 18/3/2020: Ministry of Education 18 March 2020

 

You will be aware the Ministry of Health’s Director-General has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in a Dunedin school following a student testing positive for coronavirus.  
 
On advice from the Southern District Health Board the school will now remain closed until Tuesday (Monday being Otago Anniversary Day). Close contacts have been identified and are being tested for the virus. The letter to the community from SDHB provides further information 
 
The Ministries of Education and Health are working closely with Public Health services in Dunedin and the school leadership to help minimise disruption, progress contact tracing and reduce the possibility of spread.
 
Reminder – schools remain open
 
At this stage, we are not expecting widespread school closures. We are planning for temporary closures, like what is happening at Logan Park School but as the World Health Organisation has confirmed, the risk to children remains low and parents should continue to send their kids to schools and early learning centres.
 
Consequently any decisions about school closures will be made on a case by case basis. In the meantime, unless students are unwell themselves, then parents should keep sending them to schools and early learning centres as these environments continue to be safe and the best place for them to continue their learning.
 
Talking to children and young people about COVID-19
 
Given the rise in the number of reported cases, there may be children or young people in your life who experience distress. As a trusted adult, you can help reassure and educate them about COVID-19 – it can be good to talk to them now, so they can understand the illness and be reassured.

Update - Sunday, 15/3/2020: Ministry of Health

New Zealand has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19. One of the eight cases was diagnosed in Australia. For a summary of the current status see our latest media release (15 March).

With continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low. On 14 March 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced new border measures, a ban on cruise ships entering New Zealand waters and other provisions. Many of these take effect from 23:59 on Sunday 15 March.

People coming into New Zealand should check our information for travellers arriving to New Zealand as all travellers except those listed on the countries and areas of concern under Category 2, will be required to self-isolate. If you arrive in New Zealand before 23:59 pm on Sunday 15 March from any country (except Italy or South Korea) you do not need to self-isolate. If you arrive after 1:00 am on Monday 16 March from any country except those listed on the countries and areas of concern under Category 2 you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

We’re also asking people who have visited those countries and areas of concern who have developed symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath to seek medical advice – phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contact your GP, including phoning ahead of your visit.

 

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.

Update - Thursday, 12/3/2020: Ministry of Health - Media release 11 March 2020


For a fourth consecutive day, there are no additional confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand. To date, New Zealand has five confirmed cases based on positive test results and two probable cases. One patient, confirmed with COVID-19, was discharged home from Auckland Hospital yesterday – under the care of their GP.

As we announced yesterday, the woman being cared for as a probable case at North Shore Hospital who was on a cruise of the Grand Princess (11 – 21 February) has also been discharged home and is also under the care of her GP.  In both cases, public health staff remain in daily contact with both patients and their families. Of the other confirmed cases, none requires hospital level care.

 

All close contacts of the confirmed cases have now been contacted by public health staff.

 

"Fundamental to our response is not putting yourself or others at risk if you are unwell - not going to work or being out in public if you are sick. All of us have a role to play in stopping further spread. I need to emphasise how critical this is as New Zealand responds to COVID-19," says the Ministry's Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

 

“This is particularly important for the concerts and large gatherings we have coming up, including this weekend.  Please stay home if you’re unwell.”

Now is the time to be even more vigilant. Everyone can help by ensuring good health etiquette – washing hands for twenty seconds, sneezing into your arm and not touching your face.”

 

The first of the North Shore Hospital staff stood down and asked to self-isolate, as a result of an earlier hospitalisation of one of the probable cases, have returned to work today.

 

Other staff will progressively return.  If they remain well, all staff will be back at work by Monday 16 March.

The DHB informs us there has been no impact on clinical care from these stand downs, and North Shore Hospital continues to provide all services as usual.

 

There are two cruise ship movements which involve New Zealanders:

Three New Zealanders are currently on the Grand Princess and have been offered consular assistance (initial reports put the number at four). We are not aware of any health concerns around these people. 

One New Zealander is reported on the quarantined Asara on a Nile River cruise.  We are not aware of any health concerns around this individual. 

 

Testing

  • 5 confirmed cases (unchanged)

  • 2 probable cases (unchanged)

  • 331 negatives

  • There remains a number of cases under investigation 

Healthline & self-isolation 
Healthline continues to take a large number of calls. There were 2930 calls received or made yesterday – more than double the same time last year.

Healthline has now registered a total of 9039 people or households for self-isolation since the process began.

There are currently 2,145 registrations (people or households) for self-isolation.  An additional 6194 have completed isolation. 

"I want to thank everyone who has self-isolated - whether that be confirmed cases, close contacts or those who've returned from overseas. Self-isolation really is one of the most important tools in the fight against COVID-19," says Dr Bloomfield.

Update - Friday, 6/3/2020: Auckland ARPHS

 

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has confirmed a parent of two students - one at Auckland Grammar School and one at Ormiston Junior College - has been confirmed with coronavirus (COVID-19).

The family involved are quarantined, have no direct connection to MENPS and students at both schools are not considered to be have been exposed/at risk.

Please click here to view the letter sent home to parents at AGS.

Update - Thursday, 5/3/2020: NPR Education Reporting (US) - A visual resource for talking to your child about Coronavirus

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus

Update - Thursday, 5/3/2020: Ministry of Education

Some people have been asking when a school might close. The answer is that we are a very long way from that situation. At this stage, there is no reason that children should not be going to school. Our Directors of Education will be discussing some key notification and planning protocols with the local medical officers of Health over the next day or so – we will be working very closely together as the situation evolves.  Today in Auckland was a very good example of the speed with which we can mobilise to support you if and when it may be needed.

A decision to close a school if that became necessary would be made by the local medical Officers of Health. As for the current situation in Auckland – there is no risk to students or staff in either of the schools.  The two students have not been infectious while they have been at school, and are not considered infectious now. A letter that both schools sent to their parents explains this.

 

In the meantime, we can provide you some further facts from the World Health Organization.

  • Evidence from China shows that only 1% of reported cases do not have symptoms, and most of those cases develop symptoms within 2 days

  • Young people 18 years and under represent less than 2.4 per cent of those who have contracted the virus.

  • From the data we have so far, COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza.

  • It continues to remain that the best thing to do is to practice good preventative measures, particularly good hygiene:

 - Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
 - Covering coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or with an elbow
 - Putting used tissues in the bin
 - Encouraging staff and students to stay home if they are unwell

Update - Wednesday, 4/3/2020: Auckland Regional Public Health Service

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has confirmed a parent of two students - one at Westlake Boys High and one at Westlake Girls High - has been confirmed with coronavirus (COVID-19). While this is concerning for everyone, there is no risk to students, staff or others at the schools. 

 

The whole household is in isolation at home, but the two students have not been infectious while they have been at school, and are not considered infectious now. 

 

The children are completely well and have no symptoms.They are now staying home as a precaution, in case they develop the disease in the future. The parents have not visited the schools.

 

This disease is managed the same way as other infectious diseases, like mumps, where people who are close contacts – but do not have the disease

 

– are kept away from others, in case they become contagious. 
There will be high levels of anxiety amongst parents and students, and there will be commentary in social and other media.  

 

People are not considered at risk if they have been close to a contact – as the contact does not have the disease. Contacts of contacts do not have to take any action such as isolating themselves.


The Westlake students themselves do not have COVID-19, and they have not exposed anyone else to this virus. 

There will be concern in school and wider communities, and misinformation circulating through social media. Here are the facts:


 The students did not travel with their parents.
 The students have been to school since their parents returned, but they were not infectious.
They did not have, and do not have, any symptoms.
 All of the family is in isolation, but the students are well and are at home as a precaution.
 

Update - Tuesday, 3/3/2020: Ministry of Health, Current Status

Welfare support factsheets:

English

Chinese (simplified)

Update - Tuesday, 3/2/2020: Immigration New Zealand, Current Status

As part of its response to managing the Covid-19 outbreak the New Zealand Government has travel restrictions in place for some foreign travellers. This decision will be reviewed every 48 hours and the Government will decide on or before Tuesday 10 March 2020 whether the travel restrictions need to remain in place. These restrictions apply to any foreigners who:

 

  • have been present in, or transited through, Iran or mainland China, 14 days prior to them departing for New Zealand. Mainland China includes all of China, but not Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR, and not Taiwan.

  • were a passenger or crew on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, within 14 days of disembarking from the cruise ship.

 

The decision to deny boarding or refuse entry to New Zealand does not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family, who will still be able to come to New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents are also not subject to the travel restrictions if New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.

 

According to Ministry of Health guidance, you should self-isolate when arriving in New Zealand from Iran, Mainland China, Northern Italy and the Republic of Korea. Please refer to the Ministry of Health website for the most up to date information: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-health-advice-general-public/covid-19-novelcoronavirus-self-isolation
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is working with other government agencies to ensure a whole-ofgovernment approach is being taken to manage this evolving situation. INZ’s Beijing office remains temporarily closed. There will be an impact on visa processing times as a result. However, INZ remains committed to minimising the impact on processing times as much as possible.

Update - Saturday, 29/2/2020: Ministry of Health, Current Status

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first case of COVID-19 is now confirmed in New Zealand.

 

The Ministry’s expert advisory group has revised the case definition for health professionals by adding Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand as countries or territories of a higher level of interest when diagnosing patients. See the Case definition of COVID-19 infection for more information.

Anyone who has visited those countries in the previous 14 days who develops symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contacting their GP by phoning ahead of their visit. See our latest health advice for more information.

We knew the likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand was high, however, the likelihood of a widespread outbreak is low-moderate.

The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organization. If any public health measures are needed for this virus, we will advise.

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

Update - Saturday, 29/2/2020: Immigration New Zealand, Current Status

As part of its response to managing the Covid-19 outbreak the New Zealand Government has travel restrictions in place for some foreign travellers. This decision will be reviewed every 48 hours and the Government will decide on or before Tuesday 3 March 2020 whether the travel restrictions need to remain in place.

These restrictions apply to any foreigners who:

  • have been present in, or transited through, Iran or mainland China or any other notified country, 14 days prior to them departing for New Zealand. Mainland China includes all of China, but not Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR, and not Taiwan.

  • were a passenger or crew on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, or any other notified cruise ship, within 14 days of disembarking from the cruise ship.

 

The decision to deny boarding or refuse entry to New Zealand does not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family, who will still be able to come to New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents are also not subject to the travel restrictions if New Zealand is their primary place of established residence. However, if they have been present in, or transited through mainland China or Iran 14 days before departing for New Zealand, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they arrive in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is working with other government agencies to ensure a whole-of-government approach is being taken to manage this evolving situation.

INZ’s Beijing office remains temporarily closed. There will be an impact on visa processing times as a result. However, INZ remains committed to minimising the impact on processing times as much as possible.

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Update - Wednesday, 26/2/2020: Ministry of Health, Current Status

 

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand to date. The likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand is high, however the likelihood of a widespread outbreak is low-moderate. 

The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organization. If any public health measures are needed for this virus, we will advise. For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 

Update - Wednesday, 26/2/2020: Immigration New Zealand, Current Status

 

The restrictions apply to any foreigners who have been present in, or transited through, mainland China 14 days prior to them departing for New Zealand. This decision will be reviewed every 48 hours and the Government will decide on or before 3 March whether the travel restrictions need to remain in place.

This measure includes all of China, but not Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR, and not Taiwan.

From Tuesday 25 February 2020, the travel restriction has been extended to include any person who was a passenger or crew on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, or any other notified cruise ship, within 14 days of disembarking from the cruise ship.

The decision to deny boarding or refuse entry to New Zealand does not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family, who will still be able to come to New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents are also not subject to the travel restrictions if New Zealand is their primary place of established residence. However, if they have been present in, or transited through mainland China 14 days before departing for New Zealand, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they arrive in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is working with other government agencies to ensure a whole-of-government approach is being taken to manage this evolving situation.

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Update - Monday, 17/2/2020: Immigration New Zealand Coronavirus Update - All children and students

We know that a lot is being done across early learning, schools, kura and tertiary to support students affected by the disruptions.  Thank you to everyone who is doing a great job and making students feel part of our education communities. It’s disappointing to hear of some instances of unwelcoming behaviour.  All children and students need to be respected and treated fairly. 

 

Please contact the Human Rights Commission should you need further support. Contact details are below. 

 

Note: The announcement today by the Minister of Health has been made based on the latest scientific and medical advice provided by relevant experts.  They have advised that the risk to public health in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands warrants an extension of the current border measures. 

 

Health officials review border measures against broader public health criteria every 48 hours. Health officials will provide immediate advice should any information emerge that has a substantial impact on the border measures.  

 

The Ministry of Health has reiterated that these travel restrictions only apply to people travelling through mainland China in the last 14 days. There is no requirement for people travelling to New Zealand from places outside mainland China to have a ‘stay away’ period.

This extends the period for travel restrictions only. It does not impact on the 14 day stay away period for those who have recently arrived in New Zealand from China, or having transited through China. Those that are required to stay away only need to do so for 14 days following their departure from China, and no longer.

New Zealand Human Rights Commission: If you know someone who has experienced racial discrimination related to coronavirus, the Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential enquires and complaints service which you can use:

New Zealand Human Rights Commission Website
0800 496877 (if calling from NZ)
0064 93090874 (if calling from overseas)
Email infoline@hrc.co.nz 
 

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Update - Friday, 31/1/2020: World Health Organisation (WHO): WHO has just declared 2019 – nCoV as an International Public Health Emergency

 

Other comments from WHO: China "needs the world's solidarity and support," and that "the world is pulling together to end the outbreak, building on lessons learned from past outbreaks." They talk about:

  • Facts not fear

  • Science not rumour

  • Solidarity not stigma

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Update - Thursday, 30/1/2020:

 

There are currently no confirmed cases in New Zealand. with the Ministry of Health, but coronavirus is now classified as a notifiable disease.

 

The Ministry of Education is assessing the risk based on advice from the Ministry of Health and advising Boards as they continue to monitor the outbreak on an ongoing basis. As with any public health situation, it is important to avoid an unnecessary sense of panic and take precautions in a reasonable and measured way, based on official advice. The outbreak is a fluid situation, and the Board will be continue reviewing our approach and advising as necessary.

Symptoms of the disease include;

 

  • Fever

  • Coughing

  • Can lead to difficulty breathing

There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for Novel Coronavirus, which particularly affects the elderly, very young and/or those who are immunocompromised.  Treatment is currently focused on the symptoms only. Further official information and updates on the disease can be found here.

 

We would also remind all parents of the following key points: 

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  • ​As always, anyone who is unwell should not be at school. If you have a particular concern about your child, you should contact Healthline without delay at 0800 611 116 or your GP for medical advice. (Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages, including Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff)

  • In state schools, students can be precluded where there are judged to be reasonable grounds to suspect that they may have a communicable disease (Section 19 of the Education Act). The student has to stay away for the infectious period of the specific disease

  • Please inform the school immediately if you or a member of your household is diagnosed with Novel Coronavirus, has been in direct contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with Novel Coronavirus, or who suspects they may be infected

  • As is often the case with public health situations of this nature, we would also caution that there is no cause for alarm, and that a significant amount of misinformation and hoax claims relating to the virus are circulating online/via social media

Self-quarantine can be reported using our absence form. Please fill in relevant information, including location(s) visited and dates of travel, as we will review these on a case by case basis and advise you with any recommendations as soon as possible.

The situation is under ongoing review, and our strategy and advice will likely change in response over time. We have implemented the following precautions:

  • Upgrade of ablution facilities

  • Briefing to all staff

  • Put in place protocols for isolations and medical care in sickbay

  • Checked travel of staff over the break to assess any potential risk

Further information from the Ministry of Education can be found here