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

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

COVID-19 is a new virus that can affect your lungs and airways. There are simple steps you can take to protect you and your whānau. 

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 (a type of coronavirus) is a new virus that can affect your lungs and airways
  • there are simple steps you can take to protect you and your whānau
  • staying at home if you or your child are sick is still the best thing you can do to stop any future spread of COVID-19

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 (a type of coronavirus) is a new virus 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.

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.

It's the cold and flu season in NZ. See Flu immunisation.

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 0800 779 997 (8am to 10pm, 7 days a week). 

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 and staying at home?

See the NZ Government's 'Unite against COVID-19' website for information about:

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 12 August 2020.
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