The latest health advice for the general public on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
The information on the page was last reviewed 20 March 2020.
On this page:
- What is COVID-19?
- How it spreads
- Prevention - how to protect yourself and others
- What to do if you may have been exposed
- Dedicated 0800 number for COVID-19 health advice and information
- Travelling overseas
- More information
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a type of coronavirus. There are simple steps you can take to protect you and your family/whānau.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- a cough
- a high temperature (at least 38°C)
- shortness of breath.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.
We don’t yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected, but current World Health Organization assessments suggest that it is 2–10 days.
If you have these symptoms and have recently been overseas, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please telephone Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.
COVID-19, like the flu, can be spread from person to person. When a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spread droplets containing the virus a short distance, which quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.
You may get infected by the virus if you touch those surfaces or objects and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
That’s why it’s really important to use good hygiene, regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands, and use good cough etiquette.
- 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 recently been overseas or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19.
People who have recently been overseas, or who may have been exposed to COVID-19, are required to self-isolate to keep their communities safe.
- If you arrived in New Zealand in the last 14 days, you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date you departed the last country you visited.
- If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact.
We know from other outbreaks that self-isolation is effective, and most people are good at keeping themselves – and others – safe and well. To find out more, see our Self-isolation resource.
More information for contacts of cases in New Zealand is available at Contact tracing for COVID-19.
It is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
People calling that line will be able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service. They have access to interpreters.
You should call that dedicated number:
- to register if you have self-isolated yourself
- for any coronavirus health advice and information and any questions you have about coronavirus, self-isolation etc.
Healthline’s main number is still the one to call for non-coronavirus health concerns – 0800 611 116.
Whichever number you call, you will get professional health advice and information.
Currently, there is no specific treatment for coronavirus, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms.
As this is a new virus, there is currently no vaccine available. Researchers are in the early stages of developing one.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing the latest advice for travellers on the Safe Travel website.
For more information see:
Our social media:
- Facebook page: @minhealthnz
- Twitter channel @minhealthnz
We will be using these channels to alert people to key updates and messaging specifically about COVID-19.