Frequently Asked Questions



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 or Omicron variant, can spread more easily than the original virus.

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 take COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
  • 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 1-2 metre distance from people you do not know.
  • Clean or disinfect shared surfaces often.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • 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:

  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • 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.

For more see

What do I do if I think I may have COVID-19?


While you have symptoms:

  • Stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow and disinfect shared surfaces often.


Where can I find the latest official information regarding international travel?

Given the rapidly evolving status of COVID-19 around the world, travel advice is regularly updated by the New Zealand Government. Please see the Ministry of Health website or Safe Travel website for the most up to date advice.

More Information

For the latest information and advice for NSOs, please click here.

For further up to date information on COVID-19 please visit the Government’s COVID-19 website.