How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19

How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19

New Zealand now has community cases of COVID-19. If your child or you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice.

Come on whānau - stay COVID-Fit (episode 02)

Even though immunisation against COVID-19 has begun here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we still need to be careful to limit the possible spread of COVID-19. This is a 'Unite Against COVID-19' video.

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Key points to remember about protecting against COVID-19

  • COVID-19 mostly spreads in particles that escape from an infected person's mouth or nose when they breathe, speak, cough, sneeze or sing
  • the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to a person
  • COVID-19 is more likely to spread in crowded spaces and indoor spaces without good airflow
  • if your baby or child has any cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, keep them away from daycare or school until they no longer have symptoms, and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453
  • the COVID-19 vaccine can protect children aged 5 years or older

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

COVID-19 is usually spread from person to person. When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs, sneezes or sings, they may spread particles containing the virus.

These particles range in size. Larger and heavier particles - droplets - quickly fall to the ground or other surfaces within seconds or minutes. Smaller particles - aerosols - can remain airborne for minutes to hours. Spread of the virus by aerosols seems to be more important than previously thought.

The risk of catching COVID-19 is higher:

  • in indoor spaces that do not have good airflow
  • in crowded places with many people nearby
  • in close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations, singing, or shouting

The risk is lower outside, with fewer people, and if people are widely spread.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

COVID-19 symptoms tend to start after 5 days but can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. Your child or you can pass the virus on to others before you know you have it - from up to 2 days before symptoms develop.

What measures can help reduce the spread of COVID-19?

COVID-19 immunisation

Everyone aged 5 years and over in Aotearoa can have their COVID-19 immunisation.

You can check the page on COVID-19 immunisation in children aged 12 and over

Find out about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years

You can book your vaccine online

You can watch a short video about how the COVID-19 vaccine works. It's from The Immunisation Advisory Centre.

You can also watch the video in Te Reo Māori and in Samoan.

Please also see the 'Unite Against COVID-19' website for up to date information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Keep your child home from daycare or school if they're sick

If your baby or child has any cold or flu-like symptoms, keep them home from daycare or school. Phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 (for general health advice) or 0800 358 5453 (for COVID-19 advice), or your doctor, as soon as possible. Make sure to phone your doctor before visiting.

Please keep your baby or child away from daycare or school until they no longer have symptoms.

Wear a face covering

Wearing a mask or face covering can reduce the risk of people who have COVID-19 spreading the virus to others.

A mask or face covering can help stop infectious droplets spreading when a person speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes.

Video - Lola and Marlon show Kiwi kids how to mask up

Check why wearing masks and creating airflow helps protect against COVID-19

Video showing the knot and tuck method to make your mask more efficient

Wash your hands often for 20 seconds

Washing your hands, and encouraging your child to wash theirs, is one of the easiest ways to keep safe. Wash often with soap for 20 seconds. Then dry. This kills the virus by bursting its protective bubble.

Handwashing with soap and water or using hand sanitiser, when done correctly, are both highly effective at killing most germs and viruses.

Helping children wash their hands

You can make handwashing easier for children by setting up a stool so they can reach water and soap by themselves. You can make it fun for them by singing their favourite songs while you help them rub their hands.

Check out this Sesame Street video about handwashing, for younger children.

Cover coughs and sneezes

Cough or sneeze into your elbow - coughing or sneezing into your elbow catches the droplets and stops them getting onto your hands. That means you won't spread the virus to other people and make them sick too.

You can also cough or sneeze into tissues. Put any used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately. Then wash your hands thoroughly. Then dry.

Keep your distance from people you don't know

The risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to that person.

The risk is highest in crowded and indoor spaces without good airflow. The risk is lower outside, where there are fewer people, and when you are further away from others.

More KidsHealth content on COVID-19

Find out about caring for a child with COVID-19

Find out what you need to know about COVID-19

See all KidsHealth's content on COVID-19

See all KidsHealth's content on COVID-19 immunisation in children

This page last reviewed 22 March 2022.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it