Information on COVID-19
It is not time for us to ease up on our precautions against COVID-19. We’ve been through a lot, and we will get through this too. We’re stronger together.
Protect yourself and others from COVID-19
Stay home if you feel unwell. Isolate wherever you are and call Healthline (0800 358 5453) about a free COVID-19 test. Getting tested will help keep your community safe.
Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. This will help health services to quickly stop any possible spread.
Scan QR codes using the NZ COVID Tracer app – available from the Apple Store or Google Play- and enable Bluetooth tracking on your device.
Use the NZ COVID Tracer booklet – available in English and other languages – or keep a diary or calendar if you can’t use the app.
Wash your hands with soap and water often – for at least 20 seconds – and dry thoroughly. This kills the virus by bursting its protective bubble.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow. This will keep the virus off your hands so you won’t spread it to other people and make them sick too.
Regularly clean surfaces that get touched frequently.
Maintain physical distancing. Keep a safe distance of 2 metres from people you don’t know while out and about. This will help minimise spread if community transmission returns.
Wear a face covering when on public transport or a domestic flight. You will be keeping your community safe by covering for each other.
What to do if you feel unwell
Stay home if you’re unwell. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
Call your medical practice or Healthline (0800 358 5453) if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms. This is to check if you fit the criteria and need to get tested for COVID-19.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- a new or worsening cough;
- shortness of breath;
- a sore throat;
- sneezing and a runny nose; or
- a temporary loss of smell.
Some people may present with less typical symptoms such as only: fever, diarrhoea, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea or vomiting, or confusion or irritability.
Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. The virus can be passed onto others before someone knows they have it – from up to two days before symptoms develop.
How to get tested for COVID-19
You can be tested for COVID-19 at most general practices, an after hours urgent care facility or a community-based assessment centre (CBAC).
You can attend a community-based assessment centre if your medical practice does not provide testing or if you are not registered with a medical practice team. You do not need an appointment to attend a community based assessment centre.
Tip: You can also use the NZ COVID Tracer app to find your nearest testing centre. Open the Dashboard and tap the ‘Learn more’ tile. Then tap the ‘Find a testing location’ link to bring up Healthpoint’s list of testing centres.
Testing is free, unless you require a test for travel overseas. You must contact a medical practice if you need a COVID-19 test to travel overseas.
Update on the COVID-19 vaccine
MedSafe granted provisional consent to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in New Zealand on 3rd February 2021.
“The provisional approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a positive step in New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19. It means we can now begin preparations for the first stage in our vaccination roll-out,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Provisional consent means the pharmaceutical company must meet certain conditions, including supplying more data from its clinical trials around the world as they progress. This will happen at the same time as the vaccine is rolled out. Provisional approval is not uncommon. For instance the annual influenza vaccine is given provisional approval for the same reason.
The Government has four Advance Purchase Agreements for COVID-19 vaccines including one for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. MedSafe is currently reviewing one other vaccine.
Update on the COVID-19 Immunisation Programme
The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme is continuing to work at pace to be ready to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is approved by Medsafe and ready for use. The timing of the rollout will also depend on when the suppliers can deliver it.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be free of charge and will not be mandatory for Kiwis.
Border and MIQ workers and the people they live with will be the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – currently expected to be in March or April. This reflects the critical role they play, standing between the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and those who might unwittingly bring the virus into our communities, and the higher risk that represents. Mandatory testing of border and MIQ workforce will continue after vaccination.
The Ministry of Health expects vaccines will be available for the general public in the second half of the year – subject to supply.
“We have come far in the fight against COVID; getting vaccinated is key to locking in the gains we have made and protecting our hard won freedoms,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Christchurch Airport border workers receiving COVID-19 vaccinations
Stuff.co.nz news article: 24th February 2021
About 40 border workers at Christchurch International Airport are among the first in the city to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
A Ministry of Health statement said the group included aviation security workers, cleaners, police, Customs workers and health protection officers who screen passengers arriving on international flights.
Health Protection Officer Debbie Smith said getting the COVID-19 vaccine felt like ‘another level of armour’ against the virus.
“I feel like a superhero on the inside now. Working on the frontline, you tend to live your life differently. There have been events I’ve thought twice about going to because of the potential risk I pose and that’s where the vaccination is going to let me live my life a little bit more normally.”
Fellow Health Protection Officer Jimmy Wong said getting vaccinated was a huge relief because it meant greater protection for his family, particularly his 3-month-old baby.
Stay informed from reliable sources about COVID-19
- Visit your local DHB website for important hospital and health hub information, such as visitor restrictions, parking and shuttle services.
- Visit your local council website for information on their essential services (such as rubbish and recycling collection or public transport) and also about upcoming rates payments.
Local public health response to novel coronavirus COVID-19
Community and Public Health stood up their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in just two hours in late January 2020 in response to COVID-19 with staff ceasing ‘business as usual’ work. Every effort, hour and individual has been focused on the response since then, and will likely be the last organisation to wind down. Our staff have been involved in the local COVID-19 response in many ‘behind the scenes’ ways across Canterbury, South Canterbury, West Coast and the Chatham Islands.