Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
4 March 2022
Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
COVID-19 Protection Framework settings
All of New Zealand is at Red (Phase 3).
Guidance on managing household contacts within tertiary accommodation
At Phase 3 of the Omicron response, only confirmed COVID-19 cases and household contacts are required to self-isolate.
Although other close contacts are not required to self-isolate, they remain at high risk of developing COVID-19 and should be vigilant for symptoms. They must self-isolate and get tested if symptoms develop.
Anyone in tertiary accommodation who is symptomatic (even if only very mild symptoms) should be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.
We have worked with the Ministry of Health to provide further clarification below around how household contacts are defined within tertiary accommodation and how cases and contacts should be managed at Phase 3 of the Omicron Response.
Residents and live-in staff are likely to be considered household contacts (and therefore are required to follow the testing and isolation advice for household contacts) if they:
- share a bedroom with a case, or
- are in house or flat-style self-contained tertiary accommodation with a case where the case uses a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry, and
- the contact has spent at least one night or day (more than eight hours) in that residence while the case was infectious.
Residents and live-in staff are generally not likely to be considered household contacts if they are living in single rooms in group accommodation including:
- halls of residences
- residential colleges
It is expected that most people in a hostel or hall will not be considered household contacts – for example, occasionally sharing bathroom or kitchen or laundry facilities are low-risk activities (unless the person had very prolonged contact with the case).
There is a helpful tool on the Unite Against COVID-19 website which calculates a person’s isolation period.
You might also find the below graphic useful.
Cases are advised to inform their close contacts that they are a close contact.
These include people they had contact with indoors during their infectious period when they were not wearing a mask, for example eating and drinking together or prolonged contact when the case was not wearing a mask. In a hostel situation, this may include other residents or staff in the hostel.
Advice for those classified as a close contact:
- close contacts are not required to isolate but are at a higher level of risk. All close contacts should be advised to be careful and vigilant for symptoms and isolate and test if symptoms develop.
- close contacts may choose to stay away from others and/or consider what settings they go into during the 10 days following exposure. That is, they may choose not to visit people more vulnerable to COVID-19 or go to a crowded location.
- If a close contact wishes to self-isolate (even though not required to), we expect that tertiary and accommodation providers will support them to do this.
For reference, you are considered a close contact if you have:
- been close to someone (within 1.5 metres) who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes and they were not wearing a mask or were not wearing it properly
- had direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva from the person with COVID-19 (for example, kissing, shared a cigarette, vape or drink bottle, or if the person coughed or sneezed directly on you)
- spent time in an indoor space for more than one hour with the person with COVID-19 and at least one of the following applies:
- the person with COVID-19 was singing, shouting, smoking, vaping, exercising, or dancing
- the person with COVID-19 was not wearing a mask or wasn’t wearing it properly
- the indoor space was poorly ventilated (that is, there were no windows or doors open)
- the indoor space was smaller than 100m2 (about three double garages).
The above only applies if you have been in contact with a COVID-19 case during their infectious period, which is two days before symptom onset or the date they were tested (if they have no symptoms).
Tertiary toolkit and accommodation guidance
We are in the process of updating the Ministry of Health’s tertiary toolkit and accommodation guidance on our website to reflect recent changes.
It is important that residents and staff are consistently reminded of ways to lower transmission, these include:
- encourage eating and drinking outside where possible
- have good ventilation in shared spaces
- most importantly, don’t go out if you are sick.
Fully vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand will no longer be required to self-isolate
The Government has updated its five-step plan to re-open New Zealand borders.
Step 1: From 11:59pm on Wednesday 2 March 2022, as the New Zealand border reopens in steps, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents entering New Zealand from Australia no longer need to self-isolate.
The Government has also brought forward Step 2 so that from 11.59pm tonight Friday 4 March, New Zealanders and other eligible travellers coming from anywhere in the world are also able to enter without a requirement to self-isolate.
Travellers must meet the following health requirements.
- Travellers must provide a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test.
- They must meet vaccination requirements.
- They must do do rapid antigen tests (RATs) on Day 0/1 and Day 5/6 and declare their results.
- All positive RATs must be registered and followed up with a PCR test.
Further information about vaccination requirements for travel to New Zealand can be found on the Unite against COVID-19 website.
International education border exception
The New Zealand Government has recently announced that from 11:59 pm, Tuesday 12 April 2022, up to 5,000 international students nominated under a fourth border exception (cohort 4) can begin applying for their border exception and student visa.
We hope that most students will be in New Zealand in time for a July study start. At this stage, sub sectors have been advised of their allocation of places.
Education agencies have shared the Draft Implementation Framework for consultation with peak body representatives for universities, Te Pūkenga, PTEs, ELS and schools.
If you are an education provider who is not aligned to a peak body, you can request a copy from: email@example.com.
We anticipate a finalised Implementation Framework to be shared with the sector from 14 March 2022.
Student visa processing more broadly resumes under Step 5, from October 2022.
You can read more about the immigration changes at each step on Immigration NZ’s website.
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 questions
All tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries can be emailed to us through our central mailbox COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.