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Pandemic preparedness

ESR supports national and regional preparedness to prevent and respond to emerging diseases of epidemic and pandemic potential through multiple activities. These routinely integrate the multi-disciplinary scientific and public health expertise we host.

Pandemic preparedness


Through ongoing excellence in scientific research and development, and through our critical roles in services to the Health Sector, ESR continues to develop capability which builds upon lessons from the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) and recent COVID-19 global pandemic experiences, as well as intervening infectious disease epidemics in Aoteaora New Zealand.

Our capabilities include critical services required under International Health Regulations in preparedness, laboratory, surveillance, food safety and one health. Learn more about our contributions to national public health preparedness below. 

Early warning systems

Maintenance and development of early warning systems

ESR’s Health Intelligence and Surveillance Group manage national infectious disease surveillance systems and run the weekly Early Aberration Reporting system (EARS) as well as maintaining international surveillance and national public health risk assessments of overseas emerging infectious disease threats on behalf of the Public Health Agency.

We maintain a number of key relationships and rapid information sharing mechanisms with international technical counterparts through regional and international surveillance networks, including the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network and World Health Organization initiatives.

CIMS training and response

Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) training and response

ESR maintains training to support ESR’s business continuity in an emergency as well as training for staff in the CIMS framework which enables effective intra and inter-agency working in an incident or emergency.

ESR’s teams readily utilise this system in the response to all emerging events, from the COVID-19 response, to local outbreaks such as the 2023 Queenstown cryptosporidiosis drinking water outbreak.

ESR’s team also has capability to support training initiatives in applied epidemiology, public health microbial genomics, laboratory and environmental health services in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the region through the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network and other initiatives.


Surveillance system evaluation, adaptation and strengthening

ESR conducts evaluations of surveillance systems to assess their fit for purpose and collaborates with the New Zealand Microbiology Network, international counterparts and research partners, for example, in developing and integrating new technologies for the detection and typing of pathogens.

Pathogen Genomic Surveillance Systems

ESR is continuing to develop integrated public health pathogen genomic surveillance for the early detection, monitoring investigation and control of emerging bacterial, virus and fungal threats.

This includes ongoing monitoring for new antimicrobial resistant organisms, new variants of COVID-19 and other priority pathogens, targeted investigations to identify the source of outbreaks of food, waterborne and other diseases, and implementing cutting edge clinical diagnostics.

We also contribute to international and regional strategic initiatives, including the Western Pacific Region’s Emerging Pathogen Characterization Technologies (EMPaCT) surveillance network and Asia Pacific Pathogen Genomic Network.

One Health

ESR works with national and international experts in Human Health, Māori and Pacific Health, Environmental and Animal Health to support one health ways of working to prepare, prevent and respond to emerging infectious disease.