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

Mercury, Urine (Occupational)

Diagnostic Use

Mercury has many applications in industry due to its unique properties, such as its fluidity, its uniform volume expansion over the entire liquid temperature range, its high surface tension, and its ability to alloy with other metals (ATSDR, 1999). The amount of mercury and mercury compounds used has declined as less toxic and ecotoxic alternatives have replaced uses, including in medicine, agricultural compounds, preservatives, batteries, chemical processes, cosmetics etc (ATSDR, 1999; AICIS, 2015a and 2015b). Occupational exposure to mercury and mercury compounds can occur during production, storage, transportation, end-use, and disposal. Workers can be exposed to mercury and mercury compounds via inhalation, and eye and skin contact. Elemental mercury, and some other mercury compounds, can exist in the workplace as vapour as well as liquid (ATSDR, 1999).
Mercury, commonly called quicksilver, is a heavy, mobile liquid metal and is slightly volatile at room temperature. The vapour is readily absorbed through the lungs. Sources of mercury include metallic vapours, mercury salts and the more toxic organic mercury compounds. Metallic mercury (used in gold mining) is particularly dangerous due to mercury vapour being absorbed via the respiratory tract. This danger is increased further when the mercury is heated.
Mercury and its inorganic salts are used in a variety of ways. These include disinfectants, antiseptics and insecticides, and in scientific instruments and processes. Mercury is also used for extracting gold and silver from ores. Organic mercurials are found as antifungal preparations. A continuing source of exposure to mercury which has become a cause for concern is that of dental nurses who use amalgams for fillings in teeth. However, due to advances in dental surgery hygiene and the use of different types of fillings, this is not as significant a problem as it was 15 years ago. Methyl mercury, which is highly toxic, is found in fish and is a major cause for concern in badly polluted waters.
Mercury and its salts can enter the body by inhalation, oral ingestion or absorption. Mercury vapour cannot be absorbed through intact skin but many mercurial compounds can be. It is very toxic and cumulative. In the blood inorganic mercury is found equally in the plasma and red cells, while the alkyl compounds, such as methyl mercury, are concentrated ten to twenty fold in the red cells. The main target organs for mercury are the central nervous system and the kidney. Mercury is excreted in the urine (inorganic and metallic)and faeces(organic) and has a half life in the body of about 70 days. Increased exposure intensifies the symptoms.
Low grade continuous exposure can lead to:
• Inflammation of the mouth, soft gums, loose teeth, excessive salivation, metallic taste and foul breath.
• Tremor (hatter's shakes), particularly when the person is being observed or is in an unfamiliar environment or job.
• Mental and nervous symptoms including behavioral changes, stammering, anxiety, loss of sleep and loss of energy and drive.
• Increased exposure intensifies the symptoms


Lipids/Trace Metals

Delphic Registration Code


Laboratory Handling


Sample timing is not critical for occupational exposure. Urine mercury is the recommended sample type for occupational monitoring.


Send to separating if ambient on arrival. Send to trace metals if frozen on arrival.


Aliquot to Core laboratory for UCRN

Turnaround Time

2 weeks

Test Code