Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) is recommending that anyone with a serious underlying respiratory condition begin self-isolation to protect against COVID-19.

"COVID-19 affects the respiratory system and is known to cause breathing difficulties, which can be extremely dangerous to those who already have a hard time breathing," says Letitia Harding, Chief Executive of ARFNZ. "The people most at risk of severe health impacts are those who are over the age of 70, those with chronic respiratory conditions (including severe asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD), and those who are immunocompromised.

"Our advice to those with severe asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, or other respiratory conditions is that they should self-isolate and seek to minimise contact with others as much as possible."   

"If you have a mild respiratory condition, we recommend that you make sure your medication is up to date, and that you always carry your reliever. At this stage the advice for those with mild asthma is the same as the advice from the Ministry of Health for the general public."

The most important thing, Letitia stresses, is not to panic.

"If you think you may have COVID-19, call Healthline on the dedicated COVID-19 number to get advice. If you need to be tested for COVID-19, please call your GP before attending to help minimise the risk to others. 

"Make sure you wash your hands frequently with warm soapy water, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as much as possible, and practice social distancing from others. Most important of all, if you think you may have the illness, take every precaution you can not to infect others.

The dedicated Healthline 0800 number for COVID-19 health is: 0800 358 5453. For further updates on Covid-19 and respiratory illness, visit 


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