New procedures when entering COVID-19 MIQ facilities

Last night FENZ National Commander Kerry Gregory sent the attached change in Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry of Health advice for Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities.

These are new precautionary measures when entering those facilities.

This was not notification of a new or elevated risk.  The Covid-19 risk to responders has not changed.

The Government has introduced measures to ensure they have a record of everyone who enters an isolation or quarantine facility, and has advised of a testing regime for those that have entered those facilities.  Prior to this advisory testing was only necessary if knowingly exposed to a confirmed Covid-19 case, and in any circumstances where a person developed symptoms.

Our Local and National representatives have been fielding a wave of calls today from members concerned that there is now a higher level of exposure, and questioning whether they should be stood down on special leave pending Covid-19 test results as a result of the new advisory.  The NZPFU representative on the FENZ Covid-19 committee was informed of the Government’s policy changes but was not provided with a copy of yesterday’s FENZ notice prior to its distribution.  We have contacted the National Commander Kerry Gregory notifying him of the issues raised and to confirm the below advice to our members to alleviate any confusion.

The key points of the FENZ announcement of the new MBIE and MOH advisory are as follows:

  • This is not a notification of a new or elevated risk.
  • These are new precautionary measures to ensure MOH has accurate records of all who have entered an isolation or quarantine facility, and to ensure appropriate testing procedures for anyone who has entered those facilities.
  • All other FENZ procedures for response to managed isolation or quarantine facilities, including PPE, remains unchanged. 
  • Only those that actually enter any of these facilities adhere to the new advisory precautions.  For example, if the circumstances allow the crew to remain in the fire appliance they do not need to provide their identification or record as having entered the facility.
  • Those that actually enter these facilities are strongly recommended and advised to adhere to new testing procedures.  The timing of the testing is different for the isolation facilities and for the quarantine facilities, and takes into account the median incubation period for the virus.

Get a COVID-19 test if you have entered a facility.
- no sooner than 5 days and no later than 7 days, if you entered a Managed Quarantine Facility
- no sooner than 5 days and no later than 14 days, if you entered a Managed Isolation Facility

  • There is no requirement to stand down pending the test result unless you are advised to do so by the Ministry of Health, or you exhibit symptoms.
  • Enter in safe@work any crew that entered and stipulate whether it was an isolation or quarantine facility.
  • Those that need to be tested are advised not to wait in a testing facility queue.  You are encouraged to ring your GP and notify the reason you want the test on a set day and name the facility you entered.  FENZ will pay for any medical costs incurred in being tested.
  • If you are anxious about the testing, or while waiting for the test result, please ask for support from your manager and/or your Local representative.
  • If you have other personal concerns (including a relevant medical condition or a vulnerable person at home), please raise those with your manager and/or your Local representative.  Remember it may not be in your interests to disclose your medical condition to your employer so we encourage you to talk to your union representative first.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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