Managed isolation and quarantine workers should now wear the more protective N95 masks when in close confines with potential Covid-19 cases, the Ministry of Health says.
The change in advice comes after outbreaks from quarantine facilities and revelations that many staff were wearing low-level surgical masks as protection.
In a written statement, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that in most cases, health and defence force staff should wear the tight-fitting N95s when within two metres of someone with a confirmed or possible case of the virus.
- N95 or P2 masks should also be worn when transferring a confirmed or probable case of Covid-19 from one facility to another or from a facility to hospital
- Staff requiring a N95/P2 mask must be trained in fitting them including a check for good fit. N95/P2 masks cannot be used with beards, as facial hair limits protection by preventing an appropriate seal against the face.
The statement said training and testing on fitting and use of the masks should be complete early next month.
That would include those doing daily health checks or transporting people with the virus from managed isolation to quarantine.
The advice was released in a separate statement from the ministry's usual 1pm update on Covid-19.