How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19
How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19
New Zealand now has community cases of COVID-19. Follow the rules for the current Alert Level. If your child or you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice.
Key points to remember about protecting against COVID-19
- COVID-19 mostly spreads in particles that escape from an infected person's mouth or nose when they breathe, speak, cough, sneeze or sing
- the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to a person
- COVID-19 is more likely to spread in crowded spaces and indoor spaces without good airflow
- if your baby or child has any cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, keep them away from daycare or school until they no longer have symptoms, and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453
- follow simple steps - like washing and drying hands often, coughing or sneezing into your elbow - these help reduce the spread of COVID-19 (and other respiratory illnesses)
- have the COVID-19 vaccine if you are 12 years of age or older
How easy is it to catch and spread COVID-19?
COVID-19 is usually spread from person to person. When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs, sneezes or sings, they may spread particles containing the virus.
These particles range in size. Larger and heavier particles - droplets - quickly fall to the ground or other surfaces within seconds or minutes. Smaller particles - aerosols - can remain airborne for minutes to hours. Spread of the virus by aerosols seems to be more important than previously thought.
The risk of catching COVID-19 is higher:
- in indoor spaces that do not have good airflow
- in crowded places with many people nearby
- in close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations, singing, or shouting
The risk is lower outside, with fewer people, and if people are widely spread.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear?
COVID-19 symptoms tend to start after 5 days but can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. Your child or you can pass the virus on to others before you know you have it - from up to 2 days before symptoms develop.
What measures can help reduce the spread of COVID-19?
In New Zealand, those at greatest risk of having severe COVID-19 symptoms have been the first to have their immunisation.
From 1 September, everyone aged 12 and over can have their COVID-19 immunisation.
When parents or caregivers make their own appointments, they can also make appointments for their children aged 12 and over. That means children can have their immunisation at the same time as their parents or caregivers.
Children under 12 years cannot have COVID-19 immunisation at this stage.
Please also see the 'Unite Against COVID-19' website for up to date information on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout timing.
The 'Unite Against COVID-19' website also provides details of who can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Keep your child home from daycare or school if they're sick
If your baby or child has any cold or flu-like symptoms, keep them home from daycare or school. Phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 (for general health advice) or 0800 358 5453 (for COVID-19 advice), or your doctor, as soon as possible. Make sure to phone your doctor before visiting.
Please keep your baby or child away from daycare or school until they no longer have symptoms.
Keep track of where you've been
Fast and effective contact tracing helps prevent any further spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand.
Watch a video about basic measures to protect against COVID-19
This World Health Organisation video is about basic measures to protect yourself and everyone else against COVID-19. It is also relevant for protecting against respiratory illnesses like colds, flu and RSV infection.
Wash your hands often for 20 seconds
Washing your hands, and encouraging your child to wash theirs, is one of the easiest ways to keep safe. Wash often with soap for 20 seconds. Then dry. This kills the virus by bursting its protective bubble.
Handwashing with soap and water or using hand sanitiser, when done correctly, are both highly effective at killing most germs and viruses.
Helping children wash their hands
You can make handwashing easier for children by setting up a stool so they can reach water and soap by themselves. You can make it fun for them by singing their favourite songs while you help them rub their hands.
Check out this Sesame Street video about handwashing, for younger children.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cough or sneeze into your elbow - coughing or sneezing into your elbow catches the droplets and stops them getting onto your hands. That means you won't spread the virus to other people and make them sick too.
You can also cough or sneeze into tissues. Put any used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately. Then wash your hands thoroughly. Then dry.
Wear a face covering
Wearing a mask or face covering can reduce the risk of people who have COVID-19 spreading the virus to others.
A mask or face covering can help stop infectious droplets spreading when a person speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes.
Follow physical distancing rules for different Alert Levels
The risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to that person.
The risk is highest in crowded and indoor spaces without good airflow. The risk is lower outside, where there are fewer people, and when you are further away from others.
Regularly clean surfaces that are touched often.
Follow NZ Alert Level rules
This page last reviewed 31 August 2021.
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