17 July 2020

The Ministry of Health has updated its advice on who should be tested for COVID-19. This change in the advice is a positive response to the NZACA’s request to the Ministry and should remove any barriers to surveillance testing for ARC staff and residents.

The Ministry advises that clinicians should offer a test for COVID-19 to people presenting to primary and secondary care who both meet the clinical criteria and are:

  • More likely to have severe consequences if they were to contract COVID-19. This group includes seniors.
  • Health care workers and aged residential care staff.

NZACA advise a precautionary approach and recommend that ARC staff and residents should be tested if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and staff should not return to work until they have a negative test result and are symptom free.

Close contacts

The guidance also emphasises that there is evidence that human-to-human risk of transmission of coronaviruses is increased in hospital and aged care settings and sets out as requirements that:

  • No aged care or health care workers can work if they have been overseas or have been in close contact (without appropriate PPE) with a confirmed (or probable) COVID-19 case. They should self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of departure or date of last exposure with the case and be tested for COVID-19 on around day 12 or 13 of quarantine/self-isolation.
  • Close contacts wanting to transfer or be admitted to an aged residential care facility must first be tested for COVID-19 prior to release from self-quarantine, on around day 12 or 13, even if they have no symptoms.