Protecting your patients
Ministry of Health and Dental Council New Zealand Guidelines for Oral Health Practitioners
Updated 20 October 2021
Alert Level 3
Auckland and parts of the Waikato region (Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas) are currently at Alert Level 3.
Oral health professionals in these areas will need to follow Ministry of Health & Dental Council New Zealand Guidelines for oral health services at COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
Under level 3 you can provide oral health care for your patients that ensures a balance between patients’ access to care and protecting public safety by limiting the opportunities for COVID-19 community spread. Please triage the patient by phone first.
Patients are in either a low-medium or high risk category for care, depending on their responses to the risk assessment questions detailed below (or page 4 of the Guidelines).
Triage all patients by phone first. If in your professional judgement you need to see the patient to effectively manage their dental condition, then determine the patient’s risk category by asking the risk assessment questions, over the telephone.
You can see the patient if you can meet the room and PPE requirements. If you are unable to meet these requirements, and the patient requires care, then refer the patient to where they can receive this.
Alert Level 2
For the the rest of New Zealand Ministry of Health & Dental Council New Zealand Guidelines for Oral Health Services at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 will apply.
Under level 2, you can provide oral health care for your patients that ensures a balance between patients’ access to care and protecting public safety by limiting opportunities for COVID-19 community spread.
Patients are in either a low or high risk category for care, depending on their responses to the risk assessment questions detailed below (or page 4 of the Guidelines).
For ALL patients ask the risk assessment questions, before scheduling an appointment, and record the patient’s responses in their record.
This assessment will determine whether you need to take extra infection prevention and control precautions because the patient is at risk of having COVID-19, or has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 in the past 14 days and therefore has a risk, although very low, of being a pre-symptomatic or an asymptomatic COVID-19 case.
When the patient arrives for their appointment, confirm their responses to the questions asked when scheduling, and record the patient’s responses in their record.
Within the context of limiting the spread of any COVID-19 community transmission, for patients with COVID like symptoms or epidemiological risks, encourage them to defer their care if not urgent.
Risk assessment questions:
- Do you have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19?
- Are you a probable COVID-19 case?
- Are you required to self-isolate and/or waiting for COVID-19 test results?
If NO to ALL:
- Do you have new or worsening respiratory symptoms including one of the following: new or worsening cough, sneezing and runny nose, sore throat, fever, temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste, shortness of breath?
- Do you have any of the less common symptoms, such as: diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise, chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain or confusion/irritability - where there is no other likely diagnosis?
If YES to ANY:
In the 14 days before the start of your symptoms have you:
- had close contact* with someone who is a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case?
- been in attendance at a current location of interest?
- travelled internationally (excluding travel by air from a country/area with which New Zealand has quarantine-free travel (QFT))?
- had direct contact with someone who has travelled overseas (excluding travel by air from a QFT country/area). This includes border staff, quarantine and isolation facility staff, and international aircraft and shipping vessel crew, except those who have travelled exclusively between New Zealand and QFT destinations?
- exited an MIQ facility (excluding recovered COVID-19 cases)?
- Worked on an international aircraft or shipping vessel (excluding aircraft from a QFT country/area)?
- cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas/conveniences visited by international arrivals (excluding areas/conveniences for travellers by air from a QFT country/area)?
- worked in cold storage areas of facilities that receive imported chilled and frozen goods directly from an international or maritime port?
- travelled from an area with an evolving community outbreak (including in New Zealand and any other country/area with which New Zealand has QFT)?**
*A close contact is defined in Appendix 2 of the guidelines
** travel from an area with Alert level 3 or 4 restrictions