Novel Coronavirus (SARS-C0V-2)

A novel type of coronavirus, known as COVID-19 (the pathogen is called SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as originating in the Wuhan, Hubei province of China. Symptoms are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza, including fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Information is being updated daily on the Ministry of Health website, or check out our other resources – all previous updates and resources are available on COVID-19 Updates & Resources and our general Resources page. Clinical pathways have been developed and are available on Community HealthPathways.

The next phase in the emergency response is a debrief of the primary care response. A survey has been developed for internal and external stakeholders that will provide key themes to be discussed further in two small workshops. If you would like to respond to the survey or be involved in the debrief, please email, attention Deborah.

The CPRG Primary Emergency Operations Centre team have developed plans in order to be prepared to escalate or de-escalate the emergency response, depending on the prevalence of the virus in the community. The planning document can be viewed here:

Case Definition

The case definition for COVID-19 is subject to change as more is known about the epidemiology of the virus as well as its clinical presentation. Patients must be assessed and meet the case definition, i.e., be symptomatic, in order to be swabbed, unless a clear directive has come for surveillance activity.


  • Keep up to date with the Ministry’s COVID-19 case definition – you can read it here.
  • This case definition will continue to apply while testing capacity allows. This will be reviewed regularly and if capacity is exceeded, we will then move to testing only cases that meet the prioritisation criteria.  Please check Community HealthPathways regularly for updates to this position.
  • Testing of asymptomatic patients is not recommended unless specifically directed.
  • Testing protocols can be found on the Community HealthPathways > COVID-19 Requests > Testing and self-isolation page.
  • Can’t get swabs? Only practices who have indicated they are swabbing patients will receive swabs from the lab. If you have been omitted from this list in error, please contact
  • Practices who have indicated they are testing patients will be receiving a quantity of oral or nasal pharyngeal swabs – only one is required.
  • Funding is available to assess and test suspect COVID patients. Details can be found on Community HealthPathways > COVID-19 Requests > Funding page.

Testing Centres

  • Community-based Assessment Centres (CBACs) are open in central Christchurch, Halswell, Riccarton, Rolleston, Ashburton, Rangiora, and Amberley. General practitioners wishing to refer suspect patients should do so via ERMS. No walk-ins will be permitted to enter at these locations; all patients must have an appointment, which are booked via the telephone triage team. Patients must meet the case definition.
  • A walk-in CBAC is available at Nga Hau e Wha marae.
  • Healthline can refer suspect COVID patients to a CBAC. If your practice is assessing and testing patients you may want to advise your patients to contact your practice in the first instance.
  • The triage team notify patients referred to CBACs of negative results. If your practice is swabbing patients then you will notify patients of negative results.

Follow Up

For more information and resources for general practices, pharmacies and other community health facilities on the COVID-19, go to our Updates & Resources page, Community HealthPathways, or the Ministry of Health website. The Ministry has also launched a Facebook page:

New protocols for Opioid Substitution Therapy have been developed for the current situation. These can be found on HealthPathways, or they are summarised here.


  • Clinical guidelines specifically for community pharmacy can now be found on Community HealthPathways.
  • MoH guidelines for PPE use in community pharmacy can be found here.
  • Community pharmacy are looking for locum pharmacists and technicians. Register your interest with Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group (CCPG) via their link.