Protecting yourself and others from COVID-19

There are ways to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19 and preventing spread of the virus.

Last updated: 6 April 2022

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Key ways to protect yourself and others

Key ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 are getting vaccinated, being prepared, staying home if you’re sick, wearing a mask, improving air ventilation indoors, physical distancing, using basic hygiene, recording your movements.

Read more below and view messages on how to prepare and stay safe on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

There is further guidance on protection of people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Also available is information and tools to support your own and others’ mental wellbeing: COVID-19 Mental health and wellbeing resources.

Get vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is how we protect each other, our whānau, and our community. Everyone aged 5 years and over is eligible for free COVID-19 vaccination.

While two doses provide some degree of protection against severe disease from the Omicron COVID-19 variant for some time, a booster is likely to offer greater protection.

Current evidence shows your protection against infection after the primary vaccination course decreases over time. Giving a ‘top up’ vaccine after a primary course helps boost your immunity against COVID-19.

Boosters lower your chances of getting very sick from COVID-19 and ending up in hospital. 

Read more about COVID-19 vaccinations.

Be prepared

Everyone should prepare for what you need to do if you get COVID-19. Being ready for getting COVID-19 is about making sure you and your household have a plan and know what to do. It will mean your whānau and community can help each other if needed.

Read about preparing to self-isolate.

Stay home if you’re sick

Play it safe. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and get tested immediately. Don’t go to work and keep unwell children home from school or early childhood education. 

Read more about COVID-19 testing and about staying at home.

Wear a mask

Wearing a mask or face covering reduces the risk of people who have COVID-19 spreading the virus to others. This includes someone who has COVID-19 but feels well or has no obvious symptoms.

A mask or face covering can help stop infectious droplets or airborne particles spreading when a person speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. It is an extra protective physical barrier to help keep people safe.

Read more about the use of masks and face coverings in the community for COVID-19 and also advice on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Improve ventilation

The risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is highest in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and is lower outside, where there are fewer people, and when you are further away from others.

Opening windows increases fresh air flow inside. If air conditioning is used, make sure the system is regularly maintained.

How to reduce the risk of COVID-19 through air ventilation

Physical distancing

The virus that causes COVID-19 is mostly spread 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 that person.

You are not required to maintain physical distance from others in the traffic light system. But it is still worthwhile keeping a safe distance from people you do not know while out and about. This will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 if it is in the community.

Use basic hygiene

Basic hygiene measures include good hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning surfaces.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds) and dry thoroughly. Use an alcohol-based sanitiser and rub hands together if soap and water is unavailable.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues. Put them in a bin immediately.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. Surfaces may have infectious droplets.
  • Clean surfaces regularly. This includes items frequently touch like door handles and phones.

Record your movements

It is recommended you keep track of people you have been with, record any high-risk locations you have visited, for example hospitals or aged care facilities and keep Bluetooth tracing turned on in the NZ COVID Tracer app.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to tell the people you have been in contact with while infectious that you have COVID-19. This can include others you live with, your colleagues or workplace, friends, or school.

Even if your contacts do not have to isolate, they should still be given the information so they can decide for themselves.

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