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COVID-19 response

The below information provides the latest updates of our involvement in the response to COVID-19 through Operation Protect.

NZDF supports the All Government Response to COVID-19

Prepared to help

We are a Force for New Zealand, actively supporting the All of Government COVID-19 response, and Operation Protect remains an NZDF priority.

Regardless of the alert level, we continue to play our part in the All of Government response while maintaining our usual responsibilities and operational commitments.

We are structured, equipped and trained for a range of crisis contingencies and it’s this preparedness that has seen us fill a wide range of roles as part of the COVID-19 response.

Support to the Government 

By the numbers 

Information last updated:  26 november 2021

Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility (MIQF) Staff 333
MIQF Security 510
MIQ (HQ) Operations 12
MIQF HEALTH SUPPORT 4
Auckland region cordon support 50
TOTAL  909

We have 1168 personnel committed to the response, which includes personnel preparing to deploy and personnel in respite following deployment.

Isolation and Quarantine

Our personnel working in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities have a range of duties which include providing information to returnees, co-ordination between facility and other agency staff, assisting with security, and oversight and guidance on procedures within the facility.

We are just one part of the team working in each Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility. Each team has representatives from Ministry of Health (health and wellbeing), Defence (admin and logistics), Police and Aviation Security (security) and Ministry of Social Development (welfare). Some facilities also have contracted security guards provided by private firms.

Brigadier Rose King is currently seconded to the All of Government COVID-19 National response as the Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine. 

The Director General of Health has authorised enforcement officer powers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 to members of the Armed Forces working within Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities. Members of the Armed Forces are able to give legally enforceable directions, and to request a person to provide identifying information. Examples of directions given may be for a person to stay in their room, and an information request could include a request for someone to provide their name.

Operational outputs

The current level of commitment is significant for the NZDF and we continue to review our activities to ensure we can meet our obligations under Operation Protect while also maintaining our training, force generation activities, mandated operational deployments and ability to respond to requests for aid to the civil power.

There has understandably been some requirement to postpone or cancel activities. However, priority is being placed on maintaining activities which directly contribute to operational readiness.

While our support to our operational deployments continues, additional considerations have been added in to our planning cycles to ensure we are prepared for any contingencies related to COVID-19, and its impact on our ability to move our personnel internationally in a safe manner.

Protecting our personnel

We are actively protecting our personnel so we can continue to protect New Zealand. 

We have an active strategy to protect our personnel throughout the full range of alert levels. Protective measures are in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and cover both individuals and workplaces. The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine provides an additional level of protection, but does not replace or remove the need to remain vigilant and follow Ministry of Health guidelines.

Personnel working within the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities comply with the health protection measures required at all times.

There are clear protocols in place within the facilities for when personal protective equipment should be worn. This ranges from no equipment required, to gloves and masks, or full gown, gloves, mask and goggles to be worn depending on the task and circumstance.

If our personnel become symptomatic while working within the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities, they are isolated on site until they can be assessed by medical personnel. They will be tested for COVID-19 and isolated until the results of that test are known.

If our personnel become symptomatic after leaving a Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility, they immediately self-isolate and contact their closest Defence Health Centre for assessment. Any further actions will be in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and as directed by their health professionals.

Additional consideration has been given to our personnel who live in shared accommodation such as barracks, with each barrack block being treated as a household bubble for the purposes of contact tracing and any required periods of isolation.

COVID-19 information for our personnel and their families can be found on the Force4Families website.

Vaccination

The Ministry of Health is undertaking a COVID-19 immunisation programme. The programme started in late February with the first recipients being border and MIQF workers, including NZDF personnel on duty in the facilities.  

As of 13 September, 93.8% of NZDF's uniformed population is fully immunised. 

COVID-19 Vaccinations at the Defence Health Centre, Devonport Naval Base.

Previous Contributions

The NZDF has been contributing to the All of Government response to COVID-19 since April 2020. Previous contributions have included:

3 September 2021 25 personnel supported NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints at the Northern border when Northland moved to Alert Level 3 leaving only Auckland at Alert Level 4. 
1 September 2021 25 personnel supported NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints at the southern border while Auckland and Northland remained at Alert Level 4 and the rest of the country went to Alert Level 3. 
September 2021  10 medical personnel supported vaccinations in Wellington.
12 July - 6 August 2021  HMNZS Wellington took part in Operation Pacific Vaccinate, delivering vaccinations to Tokelau and northern Cook Islands. 
28 February – 2 March 2021 50 personnel supported the NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints established as the Auckland region moved to Alert Level 3.
14 – 17 February 2021 50 personnel supported the NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints established as the Auckland region moved to Alert Level 3.
25 September – 31 December 2020 31 December 2020: Navy maritime patrol and response assets on standby to support the NZ Customs service during small boat season.
18 August – 9 November 2020 80 personnel supported the NZ Customs Service conducting maritime security and border monitoring at ports throughout the country.
12 – 30 August 2020 50 personnel supported the NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints established as the Auckland region moved to Alert Level 3.

Behind the patch

Patches are an important part of military culture. When worn by our personnel, they identify a trade, task, or rank relating to that person. Those in our Defence Force who are tasked to Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities, and are helping to protect Aotearoa against COVID-19, will wear the Operation Protect patch. The Op Protect patch is full of meaning:

The Manuka flower has long been valued by Māori for its healing benefits. This medicinal legacy of the flower is why we chose it to represent our role in protecting the health of Kiwis.

The honeycomb is created by many bees working together toward a common goal. It symbolises our belief that by working together we can overcome the epidemic.

The New Zealand Defence Force Operation Protect badge which features a manuka flower and honey comb in the shape of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Contact us

Media enquiries about our involvement in the response to Covid-19 can be directed to the All of Government response team at media@mbie.govt.nz

For all other media enquiries, please call Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980 or media@nzdf.mil.nz