Where to go to for health advice on COVID-19 …

This information is to provide an update to the disability community and sector on COVID-19.

We will have regular updates about COVID-19 with disability relevant information to make it easy to keep up to date with the latest information and developments.

I would like to assure you that the Disability Directorate is taking the response to COVID-19 very seriously. Keeping individuals, families and whānau, and communities safe and healthy in the current global environment is a key priority for us.

We recognise that some disabled people may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Some disabled people and their families and whānau may be significantly impacted if their care and support workers get COVID-19. Therefore, we are focused on ensuring continuity of supports for disabled people and working to ensure the whole of government response to COVID-19 meets the needs of disabled people.

Last week we established a COVID-19 Disability Sector Leadership Response Group who are working with us closely to plan and implement our response to COVID-19. This group involves disabled people, unions, providers, and officials coming together to identify and work through disability-specific COVID-19 issues.

We have new information sheets for disabled people and their family and whānau, and providers with more information about what to do to keep yourself safe and well, and what to do if you’re sick.  These will be available on our website tomorrow, Tuesday, 17 March 2020 at:  https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus.  We are developing more information all the time and will keep you posted when it becomes available. For example, we are working on advice about leave provisions for staff, and protections for vulnerable populations.

We are urging people to continue to follow key health advice:

·        Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

·        Follow the Prime Minister’s advice to stop hand shakes, hugs and hongi

·        Avoid contact with people who are feeling unwell or may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

·        If you are feeling unwell at all, even if you think it’s just a cough or a cold, stay at home.

·        The Ministry of Health website is constantly updated with the latest health advice at https://www.health.govt.nz/

You and your family and whānau would normally take extra precautions during winter to stop yourselves getting sick, so it is a good idea to start those now. This could include making sure all medication is up to date and you have some spare at home, buying a little extra non-perishable food at each grocery shop, and making sure you have some close family, whānau, or friends you can reach out to for support.

Please distribute this, and any other information you get from us, to disabled people, families and whānau, carers, and staff as appropriate for your organisation.

For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS. For advice about general government support you can check out https://www.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/

If you have questions about your disability supports in relation to COVID-19 then contact your disability support provider, individualised funding host provider, or your NASC All disability providers should be planning to ensure services continue. 

Adri Isbister, Deputy Director-General, Disability (Ministry of Health)
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