What is Covid-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It affects your lungs, airways and other organs.
Coronaviruses are from a large and diverse family of viruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold. Other recent diseases caused by coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
SARS-CoV-2 was first recognised in China and likely originated in animals. It is still unclear how the virus came to infect humans. The disease spread to other countries, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
The virus has since undergone genetic mutations over time. Some of these mutations, such as the Delta variant, can spread more easily than the original virus and potentially cause more severe disease.
How do I protect myself from COVID-19?
These simple steps can slow the spread of the virus and help protect you, your whānau, and your community from COVID-19.
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19
- If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your doctor or Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.
- Regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
- Keep a 2 metre distance from people you do not know.
- Clean or disinfect shared surfaces often.
- Wear a face covering.
- Keep track of where you have been with the NZ COVID Tracer app.
- Follow the evolving New Zealand Government advice
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after infection. A person with COVID-19 can pass it on to others from up to 2 days before showing symptoms. Sometimes people may have COVID-19, but not have any symptoms.
Symptoms can include one or more of the following:
- a fever of at least 38°C
- a new or worsening cough
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- sneezing and runny nose
- temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste.
Less common symptoms may include:
- muscle pain or body aches
- confusion or irritability.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are like other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu – but during a pandemic, it is critical that if you develop these symptoms, COVID-19 is ruled out.
What do I do if I think I may have COVID-19?
Talk to a health professional
If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call:
- Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453
- your General Practitioner, or NSO Medical Director
- your iwi health provider.
A health professional will tell you whether you fit the criteria for testing. Call your doctor before visiting.
If you are outside New Zealand call +64 9 358 5453 or your doctor.
While you have symptoms
- Stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
- Call your doctor or Healthline and check if you should get tested.
- Wash your hands often.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow and disinfect shared surfaces often.
- If health authorities tell you to self-isolate, do so immediately. If you are waiting for test results you will also need to self-isolate.
Should I wear a mask?
When you are leaving your home, face coverings should be worn whenever you can. The Delta variant is more transmissible by droplets, so face coverings are a way we can protect ourselves and each other.
The Protect against COVID-19 website has information about face covering including when they are required at.
Where can I find the latest official information regarding international travel?
The SafeTravel website has official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas.
HPSNZ continues to work closely with NSOs on matters relating to international travel for athletes and support staff. Questions from NSOs can be raised with your usual point of contact at HPSNZ, the NSO Medical Director, or through HP Leader Capability Consultant Chris Morrison.