With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) evolving at fast pace, it’s all the more important to stay informed through reliable sources.

Here’s a summary of information about COVID-19 – how it spreads, what are the symptoms and how you can protect yourself and your family. For more details, we recommend a visit to www.covid19.govt.nz, the Government’s new dedicated resource.

What is COVID-19? What are the symptoms?

According to Health.govt.nz, COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”) is a new illness caused by a type of coronavirus that can affect lungs and airways.

Symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath and a high temperature of at least 38°C. It’s important to note that having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have coronavirus, as they can be quite similar to other common illnesses like cold and flu. Visit www.health.govt.nz for more information.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

The NZ Ministry of Health says it’s not yet known how long coronavirus symptoms take to show after a person has been infected, but according to current World Health Organisation assessments, it could be between two and 10 days. Some, like New Zealand microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, say the “incubation period” could even be longer, around two weeks, which is why health officials recommend a 14-day isolation period for people who may have been infected.

How does it spread?

According to the NZ Ministry of Health, COVID-19 spreads from person to person, for example through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when someone touches their mouth, nose or eyes after touching infected surfaces or objects.

How do we protect ourselves?

Basic protection measures are crucial, according to health advice from Health.govt.nz. These include the following:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
  • Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, sharing cups or food with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you have any symptoms and have been to any countries or territories of concern or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19.

For the latest information on protecting yourself and your loved ones, including information about self-isolation, visit www.health.govt.nz.

What about vaccines and treatment?

For up-to-date news about treatment and immunisation, we recommend a visit to the health advice page on the NZ Ministry of Health’s website (here). At the time of this writing, the page states that researchers are in the early stages of developing a vaccine.

Minimising risk in the workplace

If you own a business, you might have questions about how to minimise risk and handle coronavirus-related challenges. For example, what should you do if a worker is sick? What if paid leave isn’t available? And what about self-isolation?

Business.govt.nz and Employment New Zealand both have dedicated pages on their websites, with up-to-date information and insights to answer most of the queries New Zealand business may have.

How to stay up-to-date

Like to stay informed and alert? Below are some useful links to consult:

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.

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