Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has revealed more details at today's press conference about the availability of health services under alert level 3.

New Zealand comes out of level 4 at 11.59pm on Monday after nearly five weeks as the country attempts to stamp out Covid-19.

Bloomfield confirmed GPs will be open under level 3 as they had been in level 4 but would be continuing to provide virtual consultations where they could.

"If you have symptoms of Covid-19 or respiratory symptoms, please seek help through Healthline or by calling ahead to your regular doctor," he said.


Community pharmacies remained open.

Hospitals remained open for emergency and acute care. Some elective services including surgeries and radiology will be available and more detail would follow.

He said dentists would be able to provide "urgent face-to-face appointments" under alert level 3 but not routine dental care.

Community midwives could continue "the fantastic work they do with pregnant women out in the community, using virtual means where possible but also face-to-face".

There would be some allowances for face-to-face physiotherapy, podiatry and optometry, where urgent care is required. But they would continue to provide services virtually.

Community mental health care would be done by virtual means or phone but face-to-face appointments could be done "if necessary".

At aged residential care, only family visits for palliative and compassionate reasons would be considered on a case-by-case basis, Bloomfield said.

More details on access to GPs have been revealed. Photo / File
More details on access to GPs have been revealed. Photo / File

The new details come after dire warnings from a string of health care workers who spoke before the Government's Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) yesterday.


Issues voiced to the committee included the head of the NZ Dental Association revealing one person was in intensive care due to a life-threatening infection. Meanwhile, GPs say they have been bracing for a "tsunami" of patients who'd put off seeing a doctor.

It was also revealed patients referred to hospital with cancer and other potentially urgent conditions were being sent back to their GPs because of the pandemic.

Today, Bloomfield said his teams were out in the field to assess what more public health units need to operate.

The Government was in discussions with hospitals to potentially provide more funding, he said.

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New guidance around people being allowed to visit family members in hospital will be made available soon.

When asked about the public using compulsory face masks in the community, Bloomfield said that was not the Government's recommendation.

He said physical distancing and maintaining bubbles were more important.

If people wanted to wear them, however, they could.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said masks were "no supplement" for physical distancing.

Bloomfield said there were disadvantages of using masks.

He said it was important that if people are wearing masks, they need to refrain from touching their face.

Ardern said her message remained, "if you can work from home, you should be working for home".

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