Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelinesCOVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
9th April 2022

  • For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

    Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

    • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
    • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
    • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
    • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
    • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
    • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
    • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
    • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

    By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

    Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

    • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
    • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
    • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
    • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
    • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
    • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

    Visiting patients with COVID-19

    • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
    • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

    You must NOT visit the hospital if you

    • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
    • are COVID-19 positive
    • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

    Exceptions for people with disabilities

    An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

    Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

    While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

    Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

    More COVID-19 information

CSF CNS PCR Infectious screen

Diagnostic Use

DNA detection by PCR provides a rapid and definitive diagnosis for the presence of HSV nucleic acid in CSF.
HSV types one and two are common human pathogens. Aseptic meningitis is usually caused by HSV2. HSV Encephalitis (HSVE) is usually caused by HSV1 in adults and HSV2 in neonates. HSVE is a serious infection that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.
The detection of Herpes simplex virus DNA requires confirmation that differentiates between types one and two. Please see link to Herpes simplex virus - CSF confirmation and subtyping.
PCR results should always be interpreted in conjunction with clinical history or symptomatology.
Occasionally an HSV PCR will be negative early in the course of HSV encephalitis. If PCR is negative when the clinical suspicion is high, the PCR should be repeated on a different CSF sample collected 1-2 days later. If both samples are PCR negative, HSV encephalitis is unlikely.
A short period of Acyclovir therapy (up to 5 days) appears to have little effect on PCR sensitivity.

Enterovirus RT-PCR
This assay is used for the detection of Enteroviral RNA in CSF from patients with aseptic meningitis. This assay is known to detect Polioviruses, Coxsackie A and B viruses, Echoviruses and Enterovirus 68-70. It therefore detects those enteroviruses that most commonly cause enteroviral meningitis. Subtyping is not routinely available by PCR

Parechovirus RT-PCR
Parechoviruses are in the same family of viruses as enteroviruses and can also cause meningitis. A separate PCR is required to detect them.

Neisseris meningitidis PCR
This PCR is useful for the diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis.PCR will allow the confirmation of the etiological agent when preceding antimicrobial therapy has inhibited growth. Confirmation of diagnosis is extremely important not only in the treatment of the patient but also in the management of contact tracing. Neisseria meningitidis is a notifiable infectious disease and should be reported to the Medical Officer of Health.

Please contact Virology (03) 364 0354 (x80354) or (03) 3640356 (x80356) if consultation with a Clinical Microbiologist or Microbiology Registrar is required.

Urgent/weekend testing by arrangement.


Microbiology - Virology

Delphic Registration Code


Laboratory Handling


Testing performed daily on routine weekdays, if weekend testing is required please contact on-call CHL Microbiologist.


Coxsackievirus PCR
Coxsackievirus RNA
Echovirus PCR
Echovirus RNA
Enterovirus PCR
Enterovirus RNA
Enterovirus RT-PCR
Meningococcal PCR
Neisseria meningitidis PCR
Parechovirus PCR
Parechovirus RNA
Varicella zoster encephalitis
Varicella zoster meningitis
Varicella zoster virus CSF PCR

Turnaround Time

24 hours