Joint Statement - Resurgence of COVID-19 in New Zealand – applying lessons learned

18 August 2020 

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) and Royal New Zealand College of Urgent Care (RNZCUC) have today issued a joint statement, welcoming the Government’s swift action following confirmation of New Zealand’s first positive cases of COVID-19 community transmission on 11 August 2020.

The statement from the peak professional bodies representing primary health care and emergency medicine, highlights the need to continue learning and implementing best practices from the lessons learned from New Zealand’s first wave of COVID-19, as well as from overseas countries also experiencing a resurgence.

Key themes and measures addressed in the statement include:

  • Telehealth and the need to adjust healthcare services triage, evaluation, and patient care methods so we  do not solely rely on in-person services;
  • The need to be vigilant, and maintain and improve stringent infection controls to limit healthcare worker infections, which have been of such concern elsewhere in the world;
  • The use of masks among the public and the recommendation that masking is applied more broadly across the country, beyond Auckland;
  • Protecting vulnerable populations; and
  • Recommending a drastic increase in surveillance swabbing, including stricter border control, managed isolation and quarantine facilities testing, swift contact tracing, and the COVID-19 Tracer App already in place.

The full joint statement is available here.

ACEM President Dr John Bonning said: “While New Zealand had done very well in its management of COVID-19, the identification of community transmission is concerning and it’s important we keep doing everything we can to limit it’s spread and additional burdens on our healthcare system”.

RNZCGP President Dr Samantha Murton said: “Experience elsewhere around the world has shown us how quickly the spread of COVID-19 can escalate, and it is crucially important that we remain ever-vigilant and continue to act quickly and firmly, in accordance with our own experiences and international best practice.”

RNZCUC President, Dr David Gollogly: “In this joint statement, our three Colleges reiterate our support of the Government’s strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date, and highlight the importance of the ongoing measures which need special attention as we seek to stay on top of the situation.”