New Zealand to Offer Free Masks and Rapid Antigen Tests Amid Worsening Omicron Wave

The New Zealand government announced Friday it would offer free masks and rapid antigen tests (RAT) to increase health safety measures amid the second Omicron wave in the country.

“These are the most effective measures we have. They are simple, but if we all do them, we can lessen illness and the burden on our health system and dedicated health workers, and get through this darkest part of winter,” Minister for COVID-19 Response Dr. Ayesha Verrall said.

Verrall said that wearing high-quality masks is a “tried and tested” measure to reduce the transmission of the virus, especially during the winter.

The government has encouraged the public to avail the available masks and RATS, saying anyone can take extra RATs or masks.

The government would provide 10 million child-size masks for four to seven students and 30,000 for all students and school staff each week.

Free P2 or N95 masks would also be available for high-risk and vulnerable people.

Free masks and RAT will be available by the end of the week at the marae, testing stations, and pharmacies.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health recorded 11,489 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 427 cases on reinfection.

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