Kia ora koutou
Testing was at the core of our elimination strategy and was essential for finding and stamping out COVID-19 in our communities.
Under an elimination strategy we only used the most sensitive, PCR tests to make sure we found each and every case. With high rates of vaccinations, we can now introduce a wider range of testing options that provide increased accessibility, convenience, and speed.
We thank you for your contribution to date and look forward to continuing to work with you as we take the next steps in our ongoing response to COVID-19.
A new way forward
The COVID-19 Testing Strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand (the Strategy) provides a new way forward in our testing response to the pandemic.
See a copy of the COVID-19 Testing Strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand here.
With the move to a minimisation and protection strategy, supported by the COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF), the Strategy provides a roadmap to help us navigate our way through the presence of COVID-19 in the community to keep our whānau and all New Zealanders safe.
In alignment with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, equitable access to, and options for testing are central to the Strategy, ensuring those at greatest risk are prioritised, and results are delivered in a timely manner.
Innovations in testing technology will be adopted to use testing modalities in settings to ‘use the right test at the right time for the right group of people.’
The next phase of our response supports management of the virus in the community, in an environment with less widespread restrictions. The Strategy will sit alongside community level management and wrap-around health and welfare services for people isolating at home as part of a toolkit to enable a more rapid and local response.
Testing modalities – using the right test
Broader use of testing technologies and adoption of innovation is a key part of the new testing strategy and the use of rapid antigen testing will play an important role in our testing approach, particularly for surveillance testing.
Nasopharyngeal PCR tests will continue to be used as the primary diagnostic test, but this will be supplemented by saliva-based PCR testing, rapid antigen testing and rapid PCR tests.
Targeted testing - testing the right people at the right time
The Strategy is centred around three different potential scenarios, where COVID-19 is either contained, spreading or unsustainable, aligned to the three CPF levels.
In each of these scenarios a different approach is required, with testing playing a different primary role, such as.
· Green, to quickly find new clusters of cases.
· Orange, to detect where are cases are spreading, particularly for high-risk groups.
· Red, to protect individuals and communities at highest risk as well as essential systems.
The Strategy sets out an approach to testing under each of these levels for different groups as follows:
· Symptomatic individuals
· Asymptomatic surveillance testing for those:
- coming into regular contact with people known to have COVID-19
- working with people with a higher chance of having COVID-19.
- working with individuals at highest risk of serious illness
- who are regularly in contact with large groups of people, including communities at greatest risk of high levels of transmission and/or severe illness
· Essential and mandatory testing (contacts of cases, international arrivals, border workers, boundary crossing, education workers)
· Patients and hospital visitors
He waka eke noa
We welcome you all on our journey ahead. Our top priority remains the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders and to keep our whānau and diverse communities safe.
We will work with the health and disability sector and all our diverse communities and stakeholders to build sufficient and sustainable testing capacity within each region of the country.
We are committed to ensuring equitable and timely diagnosis of COVID-19, to support the public health response and individual clinical care.
We look forward to collaborating with our testing partners, colleagues in the health and disability sector, government agencies, our disabled communities, and Māori and Pacific communities to implement the Strategy.
We will adjust and adapt the Strategy as necessary through processes of evaluation and feedback.
We are asking you to share the Strategy through your networks and with your communities.
We want to hear from you. You can provide feedback on the strategy by 16 December as follows:
Thanks for all that you have done in helping us reach this point in our response. Our job is not done but we are confident that the Strategy provides a clear roadmap for us on the next steps in our journey. Equipped with this toolkit we will reach our destination, a place where all New Zealanders feel safe, are healthy and can have the freedom to do the things we enjoy, with our family, friends and whānau.
Ngā mihi maioha