Following the outbreak of the coronavirus in China in January 2020, the Ministry of Health has provided public health advice in response to the potential risk to New Zealand.
New Zealand has six confirmed cases of COVID-19. For a summary of the current status see our latest media release (14 March).
With continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.
On 14 March 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced new border measures, a ban on cruise ships entering New Zealand waters and other provisions. Many of these take effect from 23:59 on Sunday 15 March.
People coming into New Zealand should check our information for travellers arriving to New Zealand as all travellers except those listed on the countries and areas of concern under Category 2, will be required to self-isolate.
We’re also asking people who have visited those countries and areas of concern who have developed symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath to seek medical advice – phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contact your GP, including phoning ahead of your visit.
In January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organisation. The likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand is high, however the likelihood of a widespread outbreaks remains low. There are no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in New Zealand to date.
Symptoms of coronavirus
Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza and do not necessarily mean that a person has contracted coronavirus. Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. It has yet to be confirmed how long symptoms take to present after a person has been infected, but current WHO assessments suggest that it is between 2-14 days. There has been information that the incubation period could be longer.
It is recommended that people adhere to the following basic principles to minimise the risk of transmission of any flu-type illnesses:
- regularly washing hands (for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap and dry thoroughly) – refer to attached poster
- covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze
- staying home if you are sick
- avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
- if you feel unwell you should avoid public gatherings and events.
Coronavirus must be reported to health authorities therefore people should be encouraged to consult their GP or phone Healthline.
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.
The Ministry of Health advises that people who have recently travelled to China, particularly to Wuhan or Hubei provinces, should self-isolate for at least 14 days.
Such travellers should avoid situations that could facilitate the transmission of the virus such as social gatherings and events where they may come into contact with others in particular, child care/pre-school centres, primary and secondary schools (including staff and students), aged care, healthcare facilities, public gatherings.
Health agencies have not issued any advice or instructions to cancel, postpone or limit events or gatherings. As the outbreak reaches across the world it is causing many people across our communities concern. As such, we expect some event organisers may choose to cancel or postpone events. In the meantime, the general precautions noted above should be followed.
Early childcare centres
The Ministry of Education has issued a separate notice advising schools, kindergartens and childcare centres with staff, children or students who may be at high risk of exposure because they have recently been to China or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus, to request that the staff member or parent/caregiver of the child or student delay their return to early learning or the start of their school year for at least 14 days and voluntarily stay away.
This information has been prepared for guidance only. It is under active review as updates are received from the Ministry of Health. For additional information we recommend that you consult the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website (arphs.health.nz) and the Ministry of Health website (health.govt.nz).