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Personal protective equipment (PPE), including use of masks, is considered as part of Standard Precautions which are a set of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures required for all healthcare interactions.
The February-May 2023 mask use guidance provides the minimum recommendations for mask use for all employees, volunteers and contractors of healthcare facilities, and patients/clients and visitors of healthcare settings.
This guidance also assists primary and community health and disability care workers in selecting additional PPE required, following a risk assessment for acute respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
A risk assessment is required before every interaction, and/or every session, with a patient/client or resident by the healthcare worker. When a patient/client or resident is suspected or confirmed to have a transmissible infectious disease, then Transmission-based Precautions should be followed.
Read more about Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions
Guidance for February - May 2023
This guidance has been developed based on current transmission rates of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in New Zealand. Presently there is ongoing but low-level community transmission of COVID-19 and low-level community transmission of other respiratory viruses. The use of masks within the patient care environment continues to be a national focus at this stage of the pandemic, in order to help protect some of our most vulnerable people and those who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Mask use by healthcare workers is one of a number of IPC measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases in healthcare. However, mask use should always be considered in conjunction with other interventions. Adhering to standard and transmission-based precautions for all patient/client and resident care, having clean indoor air through good ventilation, access to testing, having occupational health processes that promote staff vaccination and enable staff to stay home from work when unwell are all important measures that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases in healthcare.
The guidance provides the minimum recommendations for mask use and additional PPE selection in healthcare settings and will aid healthcare facilities and workers with decision making in this area.
This guidance will be reviewed and updated according to changes within the national situation, current epidemiology and other factors (e.g. facility-based outbreak, staff resourcing).
Guidance on mask-wearing for healthcare settings will be reviewed prior to winter 2023.
Mask use and additional PPE selection guidance
Posters are available to facilitate use of masks in health care settings.
They are available for download from the Unite Against COVID-19 Resource Toolkit.
Face mask album – Unite against COVID-19 Resource Toolkit.
Further detailed advice on the use of personal protective equipment in health care: