Further updates to joint alert level 1 guidelines

On 25 June the Ministry of Health issued updated risk assessment criteria for patients with unknown COVID-19 status during alert level 1. The joint guidelines for oral health services at alert level 1 has been further updated to reflect these changes. Please note, this is a second update to the guidelines.

What changes have been made to the alert level 1 guidelines for oral health services?

The key changes relate to pages 3 – 5 in the alert level 1 guidelines for oral health services. The only change made is to the risk assessment criteria for determining the appropriate risk category. The management of the high and low risk groups has not changed (i.e. what treatment can be performed, PPE and room requirements).

New risk assessment questions have been added to reflect the Ministry of Health’s revised assessment criteria. The focus is on those who work in industries in direct contact with overseas travellers coming into the country (such as crew on international aircrafts or shipping vessels, staff at customs, immigration and quarantine/isolation facilities, and households of aircrew).

The risk assessment questions are supported by strengthened guidance for staff working in those sectors, and the strategies to limit potential transmission—these strategies include use of PPE, regular health checks, testing, self-isolation of international aircrew until test results are back after a test on day two on touchdown in New Zealand etc.

An additional risk assessment layer was added to the assessment pathway for patients without respiratory symptoms and who are direct contacts of others who have recently travelled overseas.

The new risk assessment will allow for household members of staff working in the sectors specified in the paragraph above to receive routine dental care during alert level 1.

The updated Ministry and Council alert level 1 guidelines (dated 3 July 2020) have been uploaded to our website and replace the previous version. Changes between the two versions are summarised in Appendix 2 of the guidelines.

The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, and we will keep oral health practitioners updated with any further changes to the guidelines as required.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Andrew Gray & Marie Warner

Chair & Chief Executive