Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
17 February 2022
Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
COVID-19 Protection Framework settings
All of New Zealand is at Red.
Student accommodation guidance released today
The Ministry of Health’s guide for managing self-isolation in tertiary student accommodation is now available on our website.
As noted on Tuesday, the new guide for managing self-isolation in tertiary student accommodation will replace the student accommodation guidance on contact categorisation and self-isolation of case and contacts in the public health toolkit for tertiary providers.
However, please continue to use the advice in the toolkit on notifying close contacts for cases in student accommodation and the case and contact management process for tertiary providers generally.
Process improvements for case and contact management
The Ministry of Health has updated the case and contact management toolkit to include additional guiding principles for case and contact management, Q&As and principles to consider for moving online.
The Ministry of Health is also considering some refinements to the way contacts are categorised.
We will outline any refinements in a bulletin once those are confirmed and will make necessary updates to the public health toolkit for tertiary providers and guide for managing self-isolation in tertiary student accommodation.
For now, providers should continue to follow the current guidance available on our website.
The toolkit and step-by-step guide are available on the Ministry of Education website.
In response to growing pressure on public health units, the Ministry of Health is bringing in Reach Aotearoa (a large external organisation, also known as CBG) to help facilitate case and contact management for education.
Reach Aotearoa has been used for contact tracing in previous COVID-19 outbreaks. Reach Aotearoa will work alongside public health units first in Auckland and then across the rest of the country as case numbers increase.
Auckland providers should have received an email from their SPOCs yesterday Wednesday 16 February about this.
A timeframe for the nationwide rollout of Reach Aotearoa will be confirmed soon. We will provide updates about when Reach Aotearoa will take over from the PHU in your region (outside of Auckland) in an upcoming bulletin.
For now, please continue to work with your SPOCs if you have a positive case on site and follow the process in the Phase 2 process flow chart of the toolkit.
The process of receiving a CTUT link and uploading the spreadsheet remains the same.
Changes to working directly with public health in Phase 2
Now that we are in Phase 2, providers will go through a SPOC for support, rather than working with public health in the first instance (as under Phase 1).
If a provider considers that a case is part of a high-risk situation (for example, a situation with many high-risk individuals) and that additional public health support is required, this should be escalated by the SPOC.
We do acknowledge that working directly with public health has been convenient for some of you to date. However, as case numbers rise during Phase 2 and 3, public health units won’t have the ability to work in the same way they have been.
Public health units
We have been made aware that some public health units (PHUs) are still working through the changes to the tertiary case and contact management process and that this isn’t making it easy on you and the SPOCs. In response, the Ministry of Health has provided further training and information to PHUs about the case and contact management process.
The Ministry of Health has also confirmed that if a regional PHU provides guidance on case and contact management that differs from the national approach (as outlined in the tertiary toolkit) you should follow the advice of the regional PHU. Regional PHUs are currently in the best position to make calls on case and contact management and they are authorised to do this by Ministry of Health.
However, this should become less common in Phase 2 as there will be much less direct engagement with PHUs or Reach Aotearoa. As always, the tertiary SPOCs can help navigate this process and escalate if necessary.
Once Reach Aotearoa is working across the country, we expect that providers will see improvements in consistency in public health guidance and a better understanding of the tertiary case and contact management system.
Be prepared for COVID-19
Whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone should prepare for what they need to do if they get COVID-19.
The Unite against COVID-19 website has resources to help you.
Travelling and COVID-19
While vaccination is highly effective, it is still possible to get COVID-19.
You may get it while you are away from home, even if you are following the rules. You should prepare for what you may need to do if this happens.
Email address for queries
All tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries can be emailed to us through our central mailbox COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.