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New measures to tackle Covid-19 – free masks and RATs available

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The government is rolling out additional measures to help tackle the second Omicron wave and record levels of flu to ease pressure on the health system and health workers in Winter 2022.

These measures include:

  • Free RATs, you are no longer required to have symptoms to claim a test pack from centres
  • Free medical grade masks and P2/N95 masks available free to high risk groups
  • Increased use of antiviral medications to avoid hospitalisation

RATs & Masks

To increase uptake in use in RATs and medical masks, they will be provided free for individuals and households from all existing community providers, including marae, testing stations, and some local pharmacies as well as new locations. There are no criteria, you don’t need to be unwell or have symptoms.

P2/N95 masks will be available for clinically vulnerable and high risk individuals.

Antiviral medication

GPs will be able to provide back pocket prescriptions, meaning at-risk patients for acute respiratory illnesses can be pre-approved and have their prescription ready should they become unwell and need the medicine immediately.

Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac is also broadening the eligibility criteria effective from Monday 18 July, to enable more people from higher risk groups to access antiviral medications.

“Free RATs will be available from all current community providers, including marae, testing stations and local pharmacies. We are encouraging everyone who needs extra RATs or masks to head to a testing site or other location and collect a free pack for you and your whānau. There is no criteria, you don’t need to be unwell or have symptoms. Wearing masks can reduce new cases of the virus by as much as 53 per cent. We are asking New Zealanders to keep up good mask wearing, especially over the remaining winter months where the virus is more likely to pass in indoor settings. 

Minister for COVID-19 Response Dr Ayesha Verrall

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