New Zealand Government New Threat System To Manage COVID-19

The New Zealand government has now implemented a “Threat System” just like the one we use for fire risks and terror attacks.  The Threat System will manage the threat of the coronavirus or the COVID-19.

As the level rises, increasingly severe measures are rolled out to combat the spread of the virus.

Those measures are restrictive and they affect many, if not every, part of our daily lives, from whether or not people can travel within the country, to how close you’re allowed to sit next to people on a bus.

The threat levels range from one to four, with four being the most severe. Importantly, the threat levels can apply to the whole country or to specific regions depending on what is happening on the ground.

 

Coronavirus alert levels

 

Alert level 1 – prepare 

The disease is contained

RISK ASSESSMENT:

  • Heightened risk of importing Covid-19 or
  • Sporadic imported cases or
  • Isolated household transmission associated with imported cases 

RANGE OF MEASURES:

  • Border entry measures to minimise the risk of importing coronavirus cases applied
  • Contact tracing
  • Stringent self-isolation and quarantine
  • Intensive testing for coronavirus
  • Physical distancing encouraged
  • Mass gatherings over 500 cancelled
  • Stay home if you’re sick, report flu-like symptoms
  • Wash and dry hands, cough into the elbow, don’t touch your face
 

Alert level 2 – reduce

The disease is contained, but risks of community transmission are growing

RISK ASSESSMENT:

  • High risk of importing Covid-19 or
  • Increase in imported cases or
  • Increase in household transmission or
  • Single isolated cluster outbreak

RANGE OF MEASURES:

  • Entry border measures maximised
  • Further restrictions on mass gatherings
  • Physical distancing on public transport (leave the next seat empty if you can)
  • Limit non-essential travel around New Zealand
  • Employers start alternative ways of working if possible -ie: work from home, physical distancing in the workplace, shift-based working, staggering meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements
  • Business continuity plans activated
  • High-risk people – ie: those over 70 or with medical conditions – advised to remain at home
 

Alert level 3 – restrict

There’s a heightened risk the disease is not contained

RISK ASSESSMENT:

  • Community transmission occurring or
  • Multiple clusters break out

RANGE OF MEASURES:

  • Travel in areas with clusters or community transmission limited
  • Affected educational facilities closed
  • Mass gatherings cancelled
  • Public venues closed (ie: libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks)
  • Alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses should close
  • Non-face-to-face primary care consultations
  • Non-acute (elective) services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff re-prioritised

 

Alert level 4 – eliminate

It’s likely that the disease is not contained

RISK ASSESSMENT:

  • Sustained and intensive transmission
  • Widespread outbreaks

RANGE OF MEASURES:

  • People instructed to stay at home
  • Educational facilities closed
  • Businesses closed except for essential services (ie: supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and lifeline utilities)
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
  • Travel severely limited
  • Major reprioritisation of health services

ESSENTIAL SHOPS WILL ALWAYS BE OPEN

No matter the threat level, essential shops like supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open but people are encouraged to shop normally so supermarkets have time to restock their shelves.

TOP LEVEL THREAT: DON’T GO ANYWHERE

The top threat level, level four, advises people to eliminate contact with others. At this level, it is likely that the disease is not contained.

The country would enter this threat level if there were a widespread outbreak, with a “sustained and intensive transmission” of the disease.

People would be instructed to stay home. Schools and other educational institutions would be closed, as would businesses with the exception of those providing essential services, including supermarkets, pharmacies and clinics.

Supplies would be rationed, and certain essential facilities would be requisitioned by the Government to combat the spread of disease. Healthcare services would be heavily reprioritised and travel severely limited.

LEVEL THREE THREAT: LIMIT TRAVEL, PUBLIC VENUES CLOSED, SOME SCHOOLS CLOSE

At level three, there is a “heightened risk that disease is not contained”. The country or a specific region will reach level three if there is a community transmission or multiple clusters of infection break out.

At level three, the government will limit travel in areas where there are clusters of infection or transmission. Schools and other educational facilities affected by the outbreak will close, but there will not be wholesale closures of schools.

Mass gatherings will be cancelled, public venues closed, and the government will advise people to use alternative ways of working as well as the closure of some non-essential businesses.

Doctors and nurses in primary care will stop doing face-to-face consultations and resources in the health system will begin to be reprioritised to tackle the threat.

This means non-essential services could stop as doctors, nurses and other health workers plough into the effort to treat Covid-19 patients.

LEVEL TWO: REDUCE CONTACT, LIMIT NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL, WORK FROM HOME

At level two, the government advises people to reduce their contact with others. The spread of the virus is contained, but there is a growing risk of community transmission.

Threat level two is activated when one of the following is occurring: there is a high risk of importing Covid-19, or there is an increase in imported cases, or an increase in household transmission or a single isolated outbreak.

The measures the government rolls out for threat level two are an extreme strengthening of the border, restrictions of mass gathering and advice to physically distance on public transport.

The government will also advise people to limit non-essential travel around the country, and for employers to start rolling out alternative ways of working, like working from home or in shifts.

People considered to be at high-risk are advised to remain at home. This includes people over 70 or those with other medical conditions that may make them susceptible to the disease like respiratory conditions or immune deficiencies.

LEVEL ONE: PREPARE; MASS GATHERINGS CANCELLED, BORDER RESTRICTIONS

At threat level one, the spread of the virus is believed to be contained, but the government advises people to prepare for an outbreak.

There’s still a heightened risk of importing the disease or evidence of sporadic imported cases, but no widespread community transmission.

At this stage, the government will roll out some restrictions at the border, implement contact tracing, self-isolation and quarantine.

There will be intensive testing and physical distancing will be encouraged. Mass gatherings of over 500 people will be cancelled, while people will be encouraged to wash their hands, and stay home if they’re sick.

CUMULATIVE MEASURES

The measures the government rolls out for each stage are cumulative. That means the measures for level two, like an effective shutdown of the border, also apply at level four.

The Government cautions to take the threat levels seriously, not just for one’s own health, but for the health of others. 

“Think about your grandparents, think about someone in your family group or your friendship group that might have compromised immunity,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“It’s not about whether or not you’re worried about yourself. It’s that you should be worried about those around you, so please take it seriously. This is about saving lives.”