COVID-19 — Levels 4 and the New Level 2
The Auckland Region is currently at Covid-19 Level 4, and the rest of the country is at Level 2, which has new rules due to the Delta variant of Covid-19. Here are some guidelines to assist you to operate your occupational therapy practice safely and as efficiently as possible:
What’s new at Level 2
The key differences to the previous level 2 restrictions include limits on gatherings. Indoors, such as supermarkets or in hospitality settings or event venues, the maximum number of people allowed is now 50. Outdoor events have a maximum limit of 100 people. Social distancing at indoor venues has also increased, from 1 metre previously, to 2 metres.
Contact tracing is now mandatory, which you will need to enforce. You should be keeping records of all face-to-face interactions with clients. It is still mandatory for all businesses that are visited by clients (including self-employed occupational therapists working from home), to display a QR code poster for the NZ COVID Tracer app. You can generate the posters for free here: https://qrform.tracing.covid19.govt.nz/. You should also have a manual pen and paper register for those visitors who do not have access to the NZ COVID Tracer app.
Use of Masks
Face coverings are now mandatory for everyone at most public indoor venues, including workplaces that are public facing. This includes all occupational therapists when treating clients; you will need to wear a mask, and so will your client, unless it impedes their specific treatment (not sure, to verify).
For closed workplaces, the previous Level 2 rules apply, including keeping a 1 metre distance.
Guidelines for Occupational Therapists in NZ at Level 4:
In most cases, you will need to operate as much as possible via telehealth solutions, except in the case of emergencies (not sure, to verify).
Guidelines for Occupational Therapists in NZ at Level 2:
You can provide in-person care if you can do so safely, following COVID-19 guidelines. The use of telehealth is still encouraged, where possible.
For all practitioners:
Screening of clients and others prior to face-to-face interaction should occur. Check that staff, clients or visitors do not have acute respiratory symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat or running nose), and within the 14 days before illness onset:
- have not had contact with anyone who has been overseas
- have not had close contact with anyone with confirmed (or probable) COVID-19
It is critical that you continue to encourage all patients presenting with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to be tested.
Infection control and PPE
Follow good infection prevention control measures
- Practise good hand hygiene
- Practise cough/sneeze etiquette
- Practise physical distancing, including in waiting and other common areas (2 meters).
- Vigilant cleaning, particularly for high use surfaces such as door handles and handrails
PPE should be used in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines. Practitioners should be aware of how to use PPE safely, including donning, doffing and disposal.
The COVID-19 Health and Disability System Response Plan (p.12) states these populations are the priority for proactive response by the health system:
- Tangata whenua
- Pacific peoples in New Zealand
- Older people, especially those over 70 years
- People with long-term health conditions
- People with disabilities
- People with mental health conditions
- People living in residential facilities (e.g., aged residential care facilities, hostels, university accommodation or Department of Corrections facilities)
- Refugees and migrant community members
Keeping safe during the pandemic
Practitioners who have symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested, stay at home and refrain from in-person visits. Practitioners should also be aware of how to keep their whanau safe when working during the pandemic.
- The MoH Āwhina App may be downloaded free by Practitioners. The app provides access to the latest information about COVID-19 relevant to the Health and Disability sector.
- Ministry of Health COVID-19 information page provides information for Health providers.
- The COVID-19 website also has links to other relevant NZ information.
- Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā COVID-19 Advice for Māori including Health Practitioners.
- COVID-19 resources maintained by the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand