New Zealand moves to highest alert level in fight against COVID-19


Most New Zealanders are expressing relief at the latest steps announced yesterday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the pressure on our health services.

We are now at Level 3 alert, moving to Level 4, the highest level, tomorrow night.

The DHBs have developed a national National Hospital Response Framework to provide escalation levels to support a nationally consistent and managed approach to clinical service delivery in hospitals.

These hospital escalation levels are specifically for hospitals and are different to the Pandemic Plan Levels and the National Alert Levels (announced by the Prime Minister) but are aligned.

If you have workplace or midwifery concerns, you can call Caroline on 027 688 8372 or you can email her at

Jill is part of a national health unions group engaging with DHBs which is meeting daily.

These meetings are to make sure that everyone knows what is going on, that the DHBs engage with unions as issues emerge, and that we have consistent messages in our communications for union members.

Significant work is underway within DHBs to address issues of concern to health sector workers, including but not limited to:

  • Staff health and safety
  • Staff wellbeing and welfare support
  • Accommodation options for isolating staff
  • Transfers/transport
  • PPE
  • Mechanisms for rapid redeployment of impacted staff

Unions have also raised the issue of childcare with ECE centres and schools now closed.

As a result of MERAS raising the issue of midwives who are pregnant or have co-existing conditions, the DHBs provided advice from Occupational Health, Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Microbiology specialists. These are on the dedicated COVID-19 page on the MERAS website.

We have also posted the advice that is on the College of Midwives website for community midwives on dealing with women with COVID-19 or in self-isolation after potential COVID exposure. This has implications for midwives employed to work in secondary or tertiary hospitals.

Primary maternity facilities are to be kept COVID-free as much as possible. Women who are symptomatic with COVID-19 are to labour and birth in secondary or tertiary hospitals. The advice as of Monday is that those with potential COVID exposure will labour and birth in hospital or they can choose to birth at home.

The College has developed advice with the Ministry of Health, “COVID-19 Risk Reduction During Midwifery Care”, which includes decision-making around face-to-face assessments in relation to Alert Level 4, as well as decisions about place of birth.