New Zealand is now at a Level 4 alert level for COVID-19 where the disease is not contained. It is likely Level 4 measures will stay in place for a number of weeks.
This means that everyone who does not work in an essential service needs to stay at home and stop all physical interactions with others outside of those in your households.
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.
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 severe asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD, and those with compromised immune systems.
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 severe asthma, are more vulnerable to adverse outcomes from the virus.
Advice to everyone is (including those with asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, or other respiratory conditions):
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) has provided guidance for those with COPD during the COVID-19 pandemic:
During this time you and your family may go for a walk around the block, and enjoy nature; just ensure you continue to practice physical distancing and keep a 2 metre distance from yourself and other people at all times. If you live with a respiratory illness, use your best judgement when venturing outside on colder days as this can trigger asthma symptoms for some people.
Yes, pharmacies will remain open during this time and there should be no disruption to your medication supply. If there were to be any short supply, your medication will be replaced with a generic version and should continue to be as effective as your regular medication.
Yes, throughout all alert levels all essential services will continue to operate. These include:
Although the majority of New Zealanders will now be in self-isolation, there are many of us who continue to work on the front line within essential services. Some of these people may still need to self-isolate depending on how well-controlled their condition is. *We will update this post as more information becomes available, specifically on COVID-19 and what this means for people with asthma working in essential roles.
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:
With many medical practices now limiting face-to-face contact, call your GP to find out where your local immunisation centre is. For information about eligibility criteria go to: www.influenza.org.nz/eligibility-criteria
It is natural to feel worried or distressed at a time like this, especially if you have a respiratory condition, however looking after your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
For tips on helping to manage your mental wellbeing or taking care of children around COVID-19 the Ministry of Health has advice and tips here.
Support yourself and those around you
For more information on these guidelines, visit the Ministry of Health's dedicated COVID-19 website at covid19.govt.nz
Page last updated: 11.00AM, 25 March 2020
Page last updated: 2.55PM, 24 March 2020
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