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New Zealand is now at Alert Level 1 for COVID-19 where everyone can return without restriction to work, school, sports and domestic travel, and you can get together with as many people as you want.

New cases may emerge with returning Kiwis from overseas, but these can be controlled through mandatory 14 day isolation, testing, and contact tracing. 

More info on Alert Level restrictions here

Golden rules for everyone at Alert Level 1

  1. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
  2. If you have cold or flu symptoms call your doctor or Healthline and make sure you get tested.
  3. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
  4. Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
  5. If you are told by health authorities to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
  6. If you’re concerned about your wellbeing or have underlying health conditions, work with your GP to understand how best to stay healthy.
  7. Keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen to help contact tracing if needed. Use the NZ COVID Tracer app as a handy way of doing this.
  8. Businesses should help people keep track of their movements by displaying the Ministry of Health QR Code for contact tracing.
  9. Stay vigilant. There is still a global pandemic going on. People and businesses should be prepared to act fast to step up Alert Levels if we have to.
  10. People will have had different experiences over the last couple of months. Whatever you’re feeling — it’s okay. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.

How do I know if I have COVID-19

  • Cough
  • High temperature (at least 38°C)
  • Shortness of breath

Don’t panic if you have some of these symptoms, as they do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19.  These symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

How does COVID-19 affect those with respiratory illness?

COVID-19 is known to cause breathing difficulties and coughing, which can be extremely dangerous to those who already have a hard time breathing. The people most at risk of severe health impacts from COVID-19 are those with pre-existing severe respiratory conditions including moderate to severe asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD, and those with compromised immune systems.

Guidance for at-risk people at Alert Level 2

Are those with respiratory illness more likely to catch it?

People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19, but people who are over the age of 70, immunocompromised, or with underlying medical conditions such as moderate to severe asthma, are more vulnerable to adverse outcomes from the virus. 

Due to the decision to move to Alert Level 1. This means the risk of COVID-19 has been managed, so there is no need to self-isolate to protect yourself from exposure. 

There are no restrictions at Alert Level 1, but it is best to stay vigilant when out and about. Maintain physical distance from others if you can and keep up good hygiene practices. 

Practical things you can do to stay safe from viruses like COVID-19 and colds and flu:

  • Keep a 2 metre distance from people you don’t know in public places and take extra care with hygiene practices.
  • Avoid touching surfaces and wash your hands before and after you leave home.
  • Wipe keys, handrails and regularly touched surfaces.
  • Avoid passing around your mobile phone to other people.

If you are working and considered at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, talk with your employer about doing a risk assessment in your workplace to look at what the risk is for you and how it can be reduced.

How to keep yourself safe

Advice to everyone is (including those with asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, or other respiratory conditions):

• Follow the Ministry of Health guidelines for staying safe at Alert Level 1.
• Keep up with your medication as prescribed, and always make sure these are well-stocked. 
• If you have asthma, follow your asthma action plan, if you do not have one you can download one here, or use the My Asthma App
• Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and thoroughly dry.
• Avoid touching surfaces and wash your hands before and after you leave home.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.  
• Avoid passing around your mobile phone to other people.
• Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
• Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
• Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
• Call your doctor or phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you have symptoms.

For those with COPD

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) has provided guidance for those with COPD during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • GOLD strongly encourages people with COPD to follow the advice of the public health teams in their own countries to try to minimise the chance of becoming infected and on when and how to seek help if they show symptoms of the infection.
  • GOLD is not aware of any scientific evidence to support that inhaled (or oral) corticosteroids should be avoided in patients with COPD during the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • COPD patients should maintain their regular therapy.
  • Oxygen therapy should be provided if needed following standard recommendations.

Guidance for at-risk people at Alert Level 1

Should I get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine does not protect you against COVID-19 but it will help to reduce demand on hospitals this winter and keep you protected from influenza.

From 18 March, people with chronic respiratory disease will be funded for a FREE seasonal flu vaccine.  This includes:
• Those with asthma, if on regular preventer therapy.
• Those with chronic bronchitis, COPD, cystic fibrosis, emphysema.
• Children aged 4 years and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.
• All people 65 years of age and over.

For information about eligibility criteria go to:

If you think you may have COVID-19

  • Call Healthline's dedicated COVID-19 hotline on 0800 358 5453 (Healthline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
  • Call your doctor BEFORE turning up to ensure you are not putting people at risk.

For more information on these guidelines, visit the Ministry of Health's dedicated COVID-19 website at

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Page last updated: 2.55PM, 9 June 2020

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