This page features news, information and resources relating to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak in the Nelson Marlborough region.

NMH COVID-19 news

Important information

It’s OK to ask for help. As we work through this together, there are people and agencies able to support you.

For financial or welfare support

  • Current MSD clients or NZ residents needing financial support should call Work and Income: 0800 559 009
  • The Government Helpline is available to help people who aren’t sure who to talk to: 0800 779 997
  • Foreign nationals who do not qualify for other support should call the Government Helpline: 0800 779 997
  • People who need support to find short-term accommodation can call the Temporary Accommodation Service: 0508 754 163 

Health and wellbeing helplines 

Free apps, toolkits, and other digital resources are also available to help you look after your mental wellbeing. Choose one that works for you:

  • Call your doctor or contact Healthline for free advice about your mental or physical health: 0800 611 116
  • Call or text 1737 for free mental health or addictions support
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
  • Alcohol & Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

For health advice about babies and children

Speak to a nurse via the free Plunket helpline, for all families, whānau and caregivers: 0800 933 922

For support with family violence or sexual violence

  • Call 111 if you or someone else is in immediate danger of being harmed or harming themselves
  • Find local support services: 0800 211 211 or
  • Call Women's Refuge for advice, support and safe accommodation: 0800 733 843
  • Call the free Elder Abuse Helpline if you, or someone you know, is experiencing elder abuse: 0800 32 668 65

For concerns about the wellbeing or safety of a child

Call Oranga Tamariki if a child or young person is unsafe, not being cared for, or separated from their parents or caregivers: 0508 326 459

For employment advice and support

Contact Work and Income if you're looking for work or have a vacancy that needs to be filled: 0800 779 009

Contact Employment for information about your rights as an employee: 0800 20 90 20 or

Contact Worksafe or information about workplace health and safety: 0800 030 040 or

Health and disability services will be running as normal under Alert Level 1 but some precautions will be in place to protect people who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 from exposure to the virus. This will include:

  • strict adherence to infection prevention and control protocols, and
  • screening on entrance to medical facilities, where staff may ask you if you have been overseas recently, had contact with anyone who has been overseas recently, or had any potential recent exposure to COVID-19 such as being a close contact of a confirmed or probable case.

For more information about health and disability services at Alert Level 1, please visit the Ministry of Health website.

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as cold or flu symptoms, contact Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor to find out if you need a test.

If you are offered a test for COVID-19, please take it. It will help us ensure we don’t have community transmission, and help keep your friends, family and whānau safe.

A COVID-19 test is free of charge.

The symptoms for COVID-19 are:

  • a fever (high temperature)
  • a cough
  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • a sore throat
  • sneezing and a runny or dripping nose
  • a temporary loss of sense of smell

Please refer to the Ministry of Health website for more information about testing

In simple terms a probable case is someone where the suspicion of disease is so high that the clinicians believe this is more than likely a case than not but cannot prove this by lab testing. Whereas A confirmed case has 'laboratory definitive evidence'.

Here are the ways that someone may be diagnosed as a probable COVID-19 case:

  1. They are a close contact of a confirmed case and meet the clinical criteria, but cannot readily be tested
  2. The clinician assessing them believes that, based on clinical symptoms and their exposure history, that they are very likely to be a case 

Why is a probable case sometimes reclassified as a confirmed case?

Every so often a ‘probable’ case is reclassified as a ‘confirmed’ case. This has been happening since the Ministry of Health revised the case definition for COVID-19, which resulted in a change to the testing requirements.

Since the case definition changed, we have retested some people who previously had negative results or didn’t get tested due to the case definition at the time, and who were diagnosed as a probable case.

If their new test comes back as positive, we change their status to ‘confirmed’.

The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service (NMPHS) undertakes contact tracing for confirmed cases, and their close contacts (eg families, flatmates who live in the same house) in our region.

Other contact tracing (eg for people on flights), is undertaken by the specialised national close contact tracing service.

Our message for the community is that the NMPHS, and the national close contact tracing service, undertake expert contact tracing to reach close contacts – the people most at risk – as they determine necessary. Close contacts will be contacted directly.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) will not disclose personal information about a confirmed case’s movements if it is not useful to the contact tracing process or when that contact’s movements have not placed the public at risk.

NMH will take a proactive approach and alert the public (eg via media release and social media) about a location, or event, when this is determined necessary. A public alert would be issued when it has been determined that members of the public at a certain location or event may be possible casual contacts, and would be unable to be identified and contacted through the contact tracing process.

The process

  1. Any positive COVID-19 case is statutorily reported to a Medical Officer of Health in the NMPHS
  2. Every case is then interviewed by a NMPHS employee to determine risk factors, including travel
  3. Contact tracing commences 
  4. Every case is monitored by the NMPHS until a Medical Officer of Health has determined that it is safe for the person to come out of isolation

For definitions of close and casual contacts, and more information about contact tracing, go to the Ministry of Health's website.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) advises DHBs to release case info only at territorial authority (ie, division by regional or district council) level.

This is primarily to protect the privacy of individuals. The MoH provides the following information for each case: Gender, age range and any relevant travel details. If a DHB were add to this data, by providing a specific location for that case, the person’s identity could be assumed – either correctly or incorrectly. This could lead to a privacy breach.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) decided to confirm Golden Bay data on 18 April in direct response to community demand for this information. By doing so, NMH is one of very few DHBs to break case data down beyond territorial authority level.

Here is the MoH guidance to DHBs:
Information about testing and cases (both confirmed and probable) can be released at either the DHB or TA level as per Ministry of Health guidelines.

It should be noted that the release of TA level information should be exercised with discretion where there is a risk of compromising patient confidentiality, especially in light of information being released on a national level. The Ministry continues to see some inappropriate behaviour against people who are being tested or have/had COVID-19 by some parts of the community. We continue to need to act to respect patient confidentiality.

Under Alert Level 1, hospital visiting hours have returned to normal. 

Please remember:

  • the more space there is between you and others, the harder it is for viruses and bugs to spread.
  • if you are unwell please stay home.
  • visitors are important for a patient's recovery - but so is rest. Be mindful of the balance.
  • keep track of where you've been by using the tracing app — NZ COVID Tracer. This app works by scanning a QR code on a poster displayed at the hospital entrance.

For more information on visiting hours, see our Visiting Hours page.

Resources to share

Posters & factsheets

High Five for Clean Hands (Source: Health Promotion Agency / Ministry of Health)

Coronavirus - Help Stop the Spread / Feeling unwell? Stay home and use the phone (Source: Nelson Marlborough Health).

Available in:

If you have a social media account, please follow and share:

There is a range of graphics and resources to share online: