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Simple steps to keep well at this time

COVID-19, or coronavirus, is a new strain of virus that spreads from person to person, like a cold or flu. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be severe for some, especially the elderly and those with long term health conditions like heart disease.

We all need to work together if we want to slow the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus. Here are a few simple things we can all do!

Know the symptoms.

People who have COVID-19 may have:

  • a fever (at least 38°C)
  • a cough
  • difficulty breathing. 

If you have these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. These symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.

Know when – and how – to contact your doctor.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call your GP before you visit. Or call freephone Healthline on 0800 358 5453. Please don’t go straight to the GP, as this could expose others to your illness.

If it is an emergency, call 111 and ask for an ambulance.

If you travelled recently, you need to self-isolate.

Anyone who has returned from overseas travel in the last two weeks should be in self-isolation. Self-isolation means staying at home as a precaution. It’s an effective way to help protect those around you – your family, whānau, friends, colleagues – from COVID-19

If you arrived before official border restrictions were announced, seeing out the balance of your 14 days in self-isolation is the sensible, safest and best thing you can do for the community around you.

Stay at home, and take simple common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people. Keep yourself out of any situation where you come into face-to-face contact with others who are less than 2 metres away, or you make any contact that lasts longer than 15 minutes. If you live with others you should minimise close contact with them.

If you feel unwell, stay at home.

If you have a mild flu-like illness, don’t go to work or school. Stay at home, care for and isolate yourself and consider seeing a GP if you have a persistent fever of 38 degrees or higher and a cough.

Even if you do not have COVID-19, keeping colds and flu away from others will help protect them over the winter months.

Practice good hygiene.

As a matter of routine, you should:

  • wash your hands with soap and water and dry them, often, especially before eating or touching your face
  • when soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitiser
  • not share food, drinks or utensils (knives, forks, chopsticks, pens, lipsticks, toothbrushes, etc)
  • avoid handshaking, hongi and kissing

If someone you know becomes ill after arriving in the country, avoid close contact with them until they are fully recovered and urge them to call a GP or Healthline.

There is no vaccine to protect you from COVID-19 and there is no cure for the infection, but there are ways to manage your symptoms.

Get your annual flu shot.

The annual flu is a serious illness that can make some people very sick. An annual flu shot is the best protection. The vaccine does not prevent COVID-19, but it can help keep more people healthy and out of hospital.

If you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, or have a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease that puts you at greater risk of influenza, or if you are healthcare worker, you can get vaccinated now for free at a general practice or vaccinating pharmacy.

Influenza vaccines for eligible children aged between 6 and 35 months of age will be available from 1 April.

For everyone else, influenza vaccination will be available from 13 April.

Learn more on the Ministry of Health website.