Government invests $150m in COVID-19 protective gear, returnees required to wear face masks

A crumpled face mask discarded after New Zealand successfully beats the covid-19 corona virus allowing public life to return to normal. New Zealand flag proudly in the background.
Photo credit: Getty

The Government is investing $150 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) and is requiring face masks to be worn by returnees in managed isolation facilities.

The $150 million investment comes from the Government's $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund unveiled in Budget 2020, and builds on the earlier investment of $200 million in PPE announced in April.

With no community transmission of COVID-19 our response now has a firm focus on keeping our border safe and secure," Health Minister David Clark said in a statement on Monday.

"We must ensure that anyone who is interacting with people entering the country from overseas, where the spread of COVID-19 is growing not slowing, has access to proper PPE."

Dr Clark said the latest funding will help protect health and other frontline workers and ensure that isolation and quarantine procedures are maintained.

"It will ensure health workers, who wear comprehensive PPE when they are in close contact with returnees as they do swabbing and health checks, continue to receive it," he said.

"Face masks and gloves must also be available to other workers at the facilities - and returnees will also be required to wear face masks when they are in common or exercise areas."

He also said it is important that PPE is worn correctly, so frontline staff will be trained at managed isolation and quarantine facilities in its safe and effective use.

"Today's announcement also ensures anyone flying into the country on Air New Zealand will have access to face masks. Over the past two weeks millions of items of PPE have arrived in New Zealand's central PPE store."

From there, he said, they have either been distributed to frontline workers or retained to ensure we have sufficient supplies in reserve.

"These items include masks, isolation gowns, disposable aprons, face shields, goggles, gloves and hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes, which have been hard to obtain during the COVID-19 pandemic due to global shortages.

"With demand for PPE in New Zealand and internationally continuing to be high due to COVID-19 we had to move quickly to ensure people carrying out this vital work could do it safely.

"This latest investment means the health workers and those working as part of our border response can be confident they will have access to the PPE they need to stay safe - and keep COVID-19 out of the community."