All New Zealand rest homes have moved to alert level 4, meaning strict lockdowns and barring family visitors, an industry chief has just announced.
Simon Wallace, Aged Care Association chief executive, said this morning risks were so high in the elderly community that rest homes had gone further than Auckland's level 3 alert status from midday and the rest of New Zealand's level 2 alert.
"Rest homes are on level 4 lockdown for at least three days. Full lockdown means effectively we are operating at level 4. It means there will be no family visits to their loved ones in a rest home," Wallace said this morning.
His sector had been watching Melbourne closely and reacted swiftly to avoid any repetition of that deadly situation.
"We've seen what's happening in Melbourne where aged care has been affected. More than 100 rest homes in Melbourne have had Covid-19 outbreaks and they didn't move quickly enough. We can't afford to take any risks at all.
Asked if the alert level 4 at New Zealand rest homes would continue beyond the three days following Friday, Wallace said he was unsure.
"We don't know. We will only know that over the next three days."
Asked about the two Christchurch rest homes where people have been sick, Wallace said he had verbal communications from the Ministry of Health that tests for Covid-19 had been returned negative.
Asked about secondary tests, he said those were yet to be undertaken.
"Testing of the residents has come back negative," he said.
New Zealand's biggest listed retirement owner/operator has also gone into lockdown.
Ryman Healthcare said: "We will be closing our Auckland villages to all visitors from 10am on Wednesday August 12 following the re-emergence of Covid-19 in the community and the move to alert level 3 for Auckland and alert level 2 for the rest of New Zealand.
"We will also be closing all of our New Zealand care centres to all visitors at the same time," it said.
"We know this is disappointing news – but please be reassured we will do everything we can to keep everyone safe. We've all done this before. In Auckland, all our independent and serviced apartment residents are asked to stay home in your units," Ryman announced.
All village activities, including Triple A, morning and afternoon teas and happy hours, are suspended. Hair and beauty salons will be closed.
Those people with loves ones in palliative or end-of-life care should contact village managers, Ryman said.
Oceania Healthcare said it had been working with the Ministry of Health which "recommended that we take immediate precautions. In response we have restricted the movement of visitors and residents in and out of all of our care centres and retirement villages across the country, effective immediately. This will be reviewed as more information comes to hand from the Ministry of Health."
Metlifecare warned of "restrictions on visitation and other precautionary measures in place to keep our residents safe. Our infection control plans are in place at all villages and care centres, and we thank you for your co-operation in staying in your bubbles, and following safe hygiene practices."