What you need to do to stay safe and healthy
Last updated: 14 May 2020
This is where you will find information specifically for disabled people and their family and whānau as well as links to accessible formats.
If you are a disability or aged care provider see COVID-19: Disability and aged care providers.
On this page:
- COVID-19 assessment and testing
- Alert Level 2
- Getting disability support
- Easy Read
- How to get your flu vaccine
- Be clean and careful
- Managing your health conditions
- Advice for at-risk people
- Find the facts
There are new criteria for checking if a person has COVID-19. As long as you have symptoms, you should be assessed by your health professional. Depending on your symptoms and circumstances, you may or may not need to be tested for COVID-19.
Read information on Assessment and testing.
For information about Alert Level 2 and what it means for disabled people and their family and whānau see Alert Level 2 for disabled people.
For information about getting disability support during COVID-19 see Getting disability support.
For information about COVID-19 in Easy Read format, see Easy Read.
The flu can have a big impact on your health and the health of people in your community. A flu vaccine is recommended and free for people who are vulnerable and most likely to get more severe symptoms.
For more information see How to get your flu vaccine.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Wash your hands regularly, especially:
- after using the bathroom
- after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze
- before or after you touch your face
- before and after eating
- after touching rubbish
- after touching animals and pets
- after changing babies’ nappies or helping children use the toilet
- before and after caring for a sick or vulnerable person
- after visiting a public place, such as a supermarket or park
- after using public transport
- after touching anything outside of your home
- after touching money
- when your hands look dirty.
How to wash your hands properly
- Step 1: Wet your hands with running water
- Step 2: Use enough soap to cover your wet hands
- Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of your hands – including the back of hands, between fingers, and under nails and around your wrists – for at least 20 seconds
- Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water
- Step 5: Dry hands with a clean cloth, single-use towel or blow-drier.
Wash and dry your hands often, even when you are at home. Soap kills any viruses that may be on your hands. If you don’t have soap and water, you can use hand sanitiser and rub it all over your hands like you would with soap and water. Hand sanitiser might be more convenient when you are outside of your home, but it can be expensive and difficult to find.
Stay away from sneezes
Stand at least 2 metres away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing even if you are at home.
When people cough or sneeze, they spray small droplets into the air which may have viruses in them. If you stand too close, you might breathe in the droplets, which could make you sick.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with:
- your bent elbow (not your hands)
- a tissue, then discard in the bin.
Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or touching your face.
When you cough or sneeze, you spray small droplets into the air which may have viruses in them. If other people breathe in the droplets, they might get sick.
Cover your coughs and sneezes, even when you are at home. Keep others safe.
If you feel sick
If you feel sick, even a little bit sick (for example if you have a cold):
- stay at home until you feel better
- try to stay in a separate room from people you live with
- don't go out and visit shops or public areas
- don’t use public transport, taxis or Ubers.
Contact your usual health care centre for advice if you are worried, or if you think you might have COVID-19. They will tell you what to do to keep yourself and other people healthy and let you know whether you should get tested for COVID-19.
Stay at home until you feel better, keep others safe.
If you are at risk of more severe symptoms from COVID-19, you will need to continue to limit the number of people you have contact with even when New Zealand is at Alert Level 2.
Changes to routines can make managing your health trickier than normal. Continuing to manage any long-term or other health conditions during the COVID-19 restrictions will help you avoid serious health complications in the coming weeks.
Conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and kidney disease, or if you have low immunity, can be managed while you are by doing the following.
- Maintain your usual health routine.
- Make an action plan in case your health gets worse.
- Get help from your doctor or other health professionals if you are unwell.
- Read more advice on managing specific health conditions.
Read more detailed advice on managing your health conditions during COVID-19.
Some people such as those with underlying health conditions are more at risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19. Under all alert levels you should take extra precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19. You can find more information about those at risk on the COVID-19 website.
If you are more at risk, you should think about whether you need to be extra safe during this time. You understand your body, your health conditions and what works best for you. Make choices based on your situation and decide which extra things you need to do in addition to regular guidelines.
You should talk to the people that you live with and anyone that you come into regular contact with (such as support workers) about how you want to keep yourself safe.
Extra precautions that you might want to take include the following.
- Discuss with your doctor what they think you should do in your situation.
- Limit the number of people you interact with.
- Maintain 2-metres physical distancing with people you don’t know.
- Continue to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when you receive support for personal cares such as feeding, toileting, washing. See Personal protective equipment use in healthcare for further information.
- You may want to negotiate with your employer/school about working or learning from home.
- You may also need to make changes to how your support is provided. You will need to talk to your provider and/or support workers about this, and it may involve making changes to someone's employment. For more information, see: [insert link to Alert Level 2 guidance for disabled people and whānau who employ their own support workers ]
- As we are going into winter and the flu season you may want to protect yourself from the flu. For more information, see How to get your flu vaccine.
More information for at-risk people is available at covid19.govt.nz.
Lots of people are talking about COVID-19 right now. It can be confusing when lots of people are saying different things. Make sure you get your information from official sources like the Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 website.
If people tell you new information, ask where they got it from – make sure it's official. You can use Google to check where the information is from or ask someone you trust to check if it is correct.