Why is New Zealand moving to Omicron Phase 3 and how is it different?

At 11.59pm Wednesday 24 February, New Zealand moved to Phase 3 of its Omicron response. This phase is all about helping New Zealanders to manage COVID-19 at home. This means we can keep hospital beds free for people who are vulnerable and need medical treatment while social services will focus on families and communities who have the highest needs.

There are three main changes at Phase 3 compared with Phase 2:

1. Testing

At Phase 3, PCR tests will be used for people who need it most, and rapid antigen tests (RATs) will become more widely available. You should only get a COVID-19 test if:
• you have symptoms, or
• you are a Household Contact

When you go for a test, the testing centre will let you know which test (RATs or PCR) is best for you. Positive RAT results do not need to be confirmed with a PCR test unless advised.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate for 10 days. You will be sent a link to complete an online form, which will help contact tracers identify locations you have visited and people you have come into close contact with.

If you do not have access to a mobile, you will be contacted by a contact tracer, or a primary care, Māori, iwi or Pacific health provider.

2. Close contacts and isolation

If you live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are considered a Household Contact and will need to isolate for 10 days. You must get a test on Day 3 and Day 10 of your isolation. If you develop symptoms you should get a test sooner. If you are a Household Contact and you test positive, you will need to isolate for 10 days.

Close Contacts only need to isolate if they have symptoms. If you are notified that you are a close contact, you should monitor your symptoms for 10 days. if you are currently a Close Contact and are part way through your isolation, you do not need to complete your 10 days isolation and you will be permitted to leave. You do not need to get a negative COVID-19 test.

If you are self-isolating at home, you can access help if you need essential supplies like food or medicine. If your symptoms worsen, call your doctor or Healthline for advice. They will tell you what you need to do next.

Vulnerable people will have access to clinical care to help them self-isolate safely.

3. Contract tracing and locations of interest

Locations of interest will not be published during Phase 3. Contact tracers will focus on helping people who do not have access or are not confident using technology.

Find out more about Phase 3 on the Ministry of Health website.


Phot credit: Marcel Eberle on Unsplash

About Mason Head

Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet

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