Understanding the COVID-19 Alert Levels

On the 21st March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that New Zealand was working to an alert level in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you’re having trouble understanding what these levels mean, we break them down below.

covid-19

ALERT LEVEL 1 -PREPARE

At this phase, the disease is considered contained.

Risks

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

Measures put in place

  • Border entry measures to minimise 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 elbow, don’t touch your face

ALERT LEVEL 2 – REDUCE

❗️We are currently on level 2. Disease is contained, but risks of community transmission growing. 

Risks

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

Measures put in place

  • 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 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:

  • Community transmission occurring or
  • Multiple clusters break out

Measures put in place:

  • 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:

  • Sustained and intensive transmission
  • Widespread outbreaks

Measures put in place:

  • 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

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