COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - What You Need To Know

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - What You Need To Know

Symptoms of the new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) are similar to a range of other illnesses such as the flu. They include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Having them does not necessarily mean that your child or you have coronavirus. New Zealand is at Alert Level 4. Everyone should stay home. This is the best thing we can all do to stop the spread of COVID-19. This will save lives.

WHO: Coronavirus - questions and answers (Q&A)

What is a coronavirus? Where do they come from? How can I protect myself? Watch this Q&A from the World Health Organization for the answers.

World Health Organization video

Key points to remember about coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways
  • it's caused by a type of coronavirus
  • there are simple steps you can take to protect you and your family/whānau
  • if your child or you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call Healthline in New Zealand (for free) on 0800 358 5453

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a type of coronavirus.

For the latest, see the NZ Government's Unite against COVID-19 website and Facebook page.

How easy is it to catch and spread coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Like the flu, COVID-19 can spread from person to person. It spreads by droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they settle on surrounding surfaces.

Droplet-spread diseases can be spread by:

  • coughing, sneezing, talking
  • close personal contact with someone with the virus
  • contact with an object or surface with the virus on it (then touching your mouth, nose or eyes)

See the NZ Ministry of Health's website, Facebook page @minhealthnz and Twitter channel.

That's why it's really important for you and family members to wash and thoroughly dry your hands often and cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissues when coughing or sneezing.

How can I reduce the risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19)?

You can take some simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19.

Check our page How to protect yourself against COVID-19.

Cold and flu season is coming up in NZ, so it’s important to stay home if you feel unwell, whether your symptoms are related to COVID-19 or not. 

What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu. Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that your child or you have COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature (at least 38 degrees Celsius)
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell

Difficulty breathing can be a sign of pneumonia.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

Health officials are still learning about COVID-19. They don't yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected. Current evidence suggests it is 2-10 days.

How serious is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • most people with this virus are not severely ill
  • people of all ages are being infected, but older people and those with medical conditions seem most likely to get seriously ill

Who can I call for COVID-19 health advice and information?

For COVID-19 health advice in New Zealand, call 0800 358 5453. Make sure to only call for health-related information on COVID-19.

For COVID-19 health advice, call 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453).

It is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

People calling the free line will be able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service and interpreters will be available.

Healthline's main number (0800 611 116) is still the one to call for non-COVID-19 health concerns.

Who can I call about non-health-related COVID-19 questions?

You can call the free government helpline on either:

  • 0800 779 997 (9am to 1am, 7 days a week)
  • 0800 22 66 57 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday)

You can call for non-health-related things like:

  • finding out what help may be available
  • finding out who to contact for help

What should I do if my child is sick right now?

If your child or you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing please first call your family doctor or Healthline in New Zealand (for free) on 0800 358 5453. See Signs that children are struggling to breathe.

Check the Ministry of Health's website - Caring for yourself and others who have, or may have, COVID-19 at home.

What about self-isolation?

Self-isolation means staying at home. It's an effective way to help protect those around you - your family, whānau and friends - from COVID-19.

You can find out more about staying at home at the NZ Government's Unite against COVID-19 website.

Is there a vaccine to protect against coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No, this is a new virus, so there is currently no vaccine to protect against the disease.

Is there any treatment for novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No, there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) but medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

Graphics are screenshots taken from the World Health Organization video - How to protect yourself against COVID-19.

This page last reviewed 26 March 2020.
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