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March 2020,


March 27, 2020

HPSNZ Guidance - COVID-19 Alert Level 4

This document  provides some guidance from HPSNZ on training and coaching while NZ is at COVID-19 Alert Level 4. It also provides general wellbeing guidelines and information on HPSNZ support services and training facilities.

Underlying principles of HPSNZ guidance

When considering Covid-19, HPSNZ prioritises public health and is led by the New Zealand Government. We have one opportunity to unite, follow the government measures, and eliminate Covid-19 from New Zealand.

  1. At Alert Level 4, public health must come before an individual’s need to train.
  2. The Government guidelines make it clear that New Zealanders are instructed to stay at home and not interact with anyone outside their own household, unless accessing essential services. It is key that we adhere to these requests in order to protect ourselves and others from the risk of infection, and to avoid unnecessary injury or illness that would further burden the health care system.
  3. The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 provides an opportunity for us to refocus on what is most important, the health of our people and our country.

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The Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation continues to evolve both internationally and in New Zealand.  This Coronavirus Update should be read in conjunction with previous updates.

The World Health Organization continues to advocate for containment of Covid-19 as a priority for saving lives, while recognising that a one-size fits all approach is not appropriate.

On March 3rd, the New Zealand government amended its advice regarding travel to different countries, including the addition of Category 1B Countries.

Covid-19 Spread and Symptoms

Covid-19 is spread by droplets from person to person and under ideal conditions, the virus may survive for several days on some surfaces.

The incubation period (the duration between being exposed and developing symptoms) of Covid-19 is uncertain, with estimates varying from 1 to 14 days.

Symptoms include fever (>38 degrees C), cough and breathing difficulty.  Less commonly, diarrhoea, vomiting or skin rash may be present.

The majority of cases of Covid-19 are mild and resolve spontaneously, but approximately 20% may progress to severe lung disease requiring hospitalisation.  Currently, the death rate appears low (in the order of 1%).

As yet, there is no vaccination available for coronavirus, and there is no coronavirus specific treatment that has been proven to be effective.

Medical Care for Supported Athletes During the Covid-19 Situation

As witnessed by events in Auckland Hospital recently, the unintended exposure to a potentially infectious individual can result in a significant service impact.

While the New Zealand Ministry of Health recognises Category 1A, 1B and 2 countries for particular management recommendations, the WHO recognises a suspect case as anyone who is symptomatic (fever and respiratory symptoms) and has “a history of travel to or residence in a country/area or territory reporting local transmission”.   This list of countries reporting local transmission is extensive and growing.

It is currently possible that an athlete presenting to a HPSNZ facility with symptoms of fever, cough or breathing difficulties, who subsequently tests positive for Covid-19 could result in the closure of that facility for a 2-week period.  We are actively trying to address this situation with the following requirements.

HPSNZ Training Centre Requirements (until further notice)
  • Any athlete (or coach/support staff member), regardless of whether recently travelled or not, should not attend any training facility if feeling unwell with fever and/or respiratory symptoms.
  • Unwell (fever and/or respiratory symptoms) athletes or coach/support staff member should seek advice from their Medical Director or General Practitioner over the phone in advance of presenting to an HPSNZ Performance Health Centre.
  • Unwell athletes (fever and/or respiratory symptoms) who have been overseas within two weeks of becoming unwell, should call the dedicated Coronavirus Healthline number (0800 358 5453) for advice.  Prior to attending any training or health consultations, those athletes should phone their NSO Medical Director or the HPSNZ Director of Performance Health for further plans.
  • All athletes returning from overseas and intending to enter either an HPSNZ training centre or Performance Health Centre should ensure that their return to training and attending the HPSNZ centre has been agreed by the NSO leadership and the NSO Medical Director (this will preferably have be completed in advance, or on return as required).   In the absence of a Medical Director, the HPSNZ Director of Performance Health may be contacted for advice.


NSOs are reminded that it remains the responsibility of NSO leadership to ensure that athletes, coaches and support staff understand their public health responsibilities and manage these appropriately.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I avoid catching the Coronavirus?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathrooms, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol. (HPSNZ utilises ‘Zoono’)
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).


What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

  • Symptoms of Coronavirus most frequently include fever, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat, but vomiting and diarrhoea may also be present (see for further symptom details).


What do I do if I think I may have Coronavirus?

  • If you have symptoms and may have been in contact with someone with Coronavirus, you should phone Healthline’s dedicated Covid-19 number 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 from overseas) or contact your GP by phone.


Should I be wearing a mask?

  • The CDC and other world leading health organisations do not recommend wearing a mask either routinely or when traveling – unless you are sick, to reduce the risk of you transmitting the cause of your illness to others.


If I am potentially in contact with someone with Covid-19, can I get tested to avoid needing 14 days of isolation?

  • Current recommendations are that irrespective of a negative test for Covid-19, if there remains the potential of exposure, isolation for 14 days remains the requirement.


What do I do if I am returning from overseas and want to train?

  • Any athlete, coach or staff member who has returned from overseas should ensure that their return to training and attending any training centre has been agreed by the NSO leadership and Medical Director.  Preferably this has been arranged in advance of travel, but it not, should be confirmed on return, prior to attending any HPSNZ facility.