The government is preparing Covid-19 Managed Isolation and Quarantine capability in the regions - including Whanganui - for those unable to self-isolate at home.
But the Ministry of Health says community MIQ will only exist on an as-needed basis and is solely for Covid-exposed or Covid-positive local residents who aren't suited for home-based isolation or placement in an existing out of town facility.
A number of job ads were posted last week, with DHBs including Whanganui, Taranaki, Nelson and Southland seeking a 'Community MIQ Service Coordination Manager'.
The position is described on the Whanganui DHB job listing as a pivotal role "responsible for designing and implementing a local community managed isolation plan to support our elimination strategy".
In a statement to the Chronicle, Whanganui Medical Officer of Health Dr Patrick O'Connor said community MIQ was a government-led plan to ensure there was support available if a Covid case was discovered in the local community.
"Should someone in the Whanganui region need to isolate at home because they are a Covid-19 case, or a close contact of a case, the community MIQ coordinator would help facilitate this and would make sure a care package is in place to keep them and the community safe," O'Connor said.
"If people who are visiting the Whanganui region are a Covid-19 case or a close contact of a case, it may be that we would need to arrange some accommodation for them locally and that would fall under the community MIQ coordinator role."
The Ministry of Health said in a statement the service was not a designated facility, and those whose needs were best met in an existing MIQ facility would still be housed there.
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"While this service is government funded, it is DHB-led and will reflect local level solutions that are whānau-focused, driven by Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles, and support equitable outcomes," the spokesperson said.
"The initiative is available to all DHBs as part of our ongoing contingency planning for Covid-19. It is not compulsory, but enables DHBs that do take part to provide alternative accommodation options if required. We have been working on establishing the service since July last year."
Currently, there are MIQ facilities in five New Zealand cities - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Rotorua, and Hamilton.
The majority of these facilities are solely for managed isolation - the 14-day period of isolation all returnees must undertake upon arrival to New Zealand.
On the other hand, quarantine facilities are solely for those either symptomatic or confirmed to have Covid-19.
Both types of facilities are based in hotels, and staffed predominantly by hotel employees, while security is managed by the NZ Defence Force and some private security contractors.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Whanganui DHB catchment has had just nine cases of Covid-19, the most recent of which recovered in April last year.