Working to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Community and Public Health stood up their response to COVID-19 in just two hours in late January 2020 with staff ceasing ‘business as usual’ work. Every effort, hour and individual was focused on this response until September 2022. Staff were involved in the local COVID-19 response in many ‘behind the scenes’ ways across Canterbury, South Canterbury, West Coast and the Chatham Islands.

Currently Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health is focussed on minimising the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities.

Get the latest information on COVID-19

COVID-19 has been hard for us all. If you need support, mental health and wellbeing resources are available to help.The Unite Against COVID-19 website provides the latest news and health information for the public about COVID-19, including:

Te Whatu Ora publishes the latest COVID-19 case numbers – updated weekly.

Te Whatu Ora has COVID-19 information for health professionals and other sectors of the community.

You can call the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline for health advice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 358 5453.

Translation services are available in over 40 languages, and there is the option to use NZ Relay Services.

COVID care to focus on providing antiviral medicine and vaccination

Te Whatu Ora media release: 28th September 2023

Providing antiviral medicine for COVID-19 to eligible people will become the key focus of primary and community pharmacy care from 1st October 2023. This will ensure people most at risk of serious outcomes from the virus receive the support they need.

The continued support with a focus on antiviral medicine reflects the transition to managing COVID-19 in the same way as other acute respiratory conditions.

Antiviral medicine will be available in both primary care and community pharmacy for those who meet Pharmac’s access criteria.  This supports free access for those at higher risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalisation.

Emphasis is also being placed on the importance of people staying up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Having the latest COVID-19 vaccination or booster will help protect those most at risk from serious illness,” says Dr William Rainger, National Public Health Service, Te Whatu Ora.

“We also recommend anyone testing positive using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), to stay at home and isolate for 5 days and report the result through My Covid Record.

“They should also wear a mask if they need to leave isolation for any reason, and not visit a healthcare location – except to access medical care – or where there may be people at higher risk. While no longer mandated, isolating and mask wearing remain important in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as well as other respiratory illnesses.

“We are encouraging people to ask their doctor, pharmacist or hauora provider if they think they, or someone in their whānau, may be eligible for free antiviral medicines.”

People can get a prescription for antivirals from their doctor or hauora provider, and many pharmacies can supply antiviral medicine without a prescription.

Video also available in Te Reo Māori.

New COVID-19 variant detected in Aotearoa New Zealand

Ministry of Health media release: 21st September 2023

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has detected the COVID-19 subvariant BA.2.86 (known as Pirola) in Aotearoa New Zealand for the first time in wastewater samples taken earlier this month.

The subvariant was first detected in late July in Denmark and Israel, and cases have been slowly increasing globally. It has not yet been detected in New Zealand in any people hospitalised with COVID-19.

BA.2.86 has been deemed a ‘variant under monitoring’ by the World Health Organization. However, there are no indications at this stage it is substantially more severe or infectious than other subvariants circulating in our communities.

Manatū Hauora – the Ministry of Health and ESR are carrying out surveillance on this and other subvariants and closely monitoring developments here and overseas, as well as emerging international evidence.

Preliminary evidence suggests that COVID-19 vaccines available in New Zealand remain effective against BA.2.86.

The detection of BA.2.86 is a good reminder that COVID-19 has not gone away so please continue to test if you’re symptomatic and stay home if you’re sick.

Learn about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

Image of a vaccine vial, with text underneath that reads: Additional COVID-19 booster available now.The best way to protect yourself, your kaumātua and whānau is to get vaccinated.

Everyone in New Zealand aged 5 or over can get a free COVID-19 vaccination. It does not matter what your visa or citizenship status is.

Children aged 6 months to 4 years can get a paediatric vaccine if they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Talk with your family doctor or other health professional if you have concerns about having the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can also call the COVID Vaccination Healthline for information on COVID vaccines and boosters, 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week on 0800 28 29 26.

The Unite Against COVID-19 website has the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines, including:

You can check when you are due for a booster on My COVID Record or on your purple COVID-19 Vaccine appointment card – if you have one.

Read or download resources on the COVID-19 vaccine – available in numerous languages and for those with learning difficulties (Ministry of Health).

Booking and getting your COVID-19 vaccine

You can book COVID vaccinations online from Book My Vaccine.

You can also call the national COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm 7 days a week) and make a booking over the phone. A carer or relative can book a vaccination on your behalf. Translation services are also available if you need them.

Get information about COVID-19 vaccination for disabled people, such as accessible clinics and arranging transport.

You can get your COVID-19 vaccination at:

  • Your general practice – appointments for enrolled patients only;
  • Your local pharmacy;
  • A vaccination clinic – an appointment is required; or
  • A walk-in vaccination centre – no appointment required.


Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 research

Impacts of COVID-19 in the community

Contact the Communicable Disease staff at your local office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777

Ph: +64 3 687 2600

Ph: +64 3 768 1160

Support tools for those with Long COVID

ME Support has developed a Long COVID online support tool. It is also useful for people with other post-viral illnesses as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Long COVID Support Aotearoa’s website aims to help people live with Long COVID, or support someone who does.

You also sign up to the Long COVID Registry Aotearoa New Zealand.

Coping with Long COVID: A new resource to help manage your wellbeing if you have Long COVID. Source: Mental Health Foundation of NZ.

Canterbury | Waitaha and Mid Canterbury

South Canterbury

West Coast | Te Tai o Poutini

Chatham Islands

The Chatham Islands Health Centre provides the following services:

  • COVID-19 Testing – to enrolled and casual patients; and
  • COVID-19 vaccination for adults and children including boosters – for enrolled patients only.

Call 03 3050 035 for more information and to make your vaccination appointment.

Page last updated: 24/11/2023

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