COVID-19: New Zealand is at alert Level 4. It is likely Level 4 measures will stay in place for a number of weeks. For more information on alert levels, go here.
A State Of Emergency is also declared, the legislation of which allows it to be in place for seven days and can be extended. There is a lot to think about and the constant streams of news can be overwhelming.
Carers NZ understands that this is a difficult and uncertain time, particularly when you’re responsible for supporting others. If you are caring for others it is important to know what support is available to you as a carer and those you look after, and we want to reassure you that we are here to guide you to what support there is out there.
The government has issued guidance about who is at increased risk. If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk of contracting COVID-19, Healthline can offer direct, free guidance on 0800 358 5453.
For non-coronavirus health concerns, Healthline provides this number – 0800 611 116.
For information about COVID-19 that is specific to those who look after a sick or disabled person, the Ministry of Health have put together an information sheet here.
Information for employees and employers
For carers who have to leave their current employment because of the current crisis, or if you are an employer, or run a business, Employment New Zealand has put together some guidance around financial support options, including the Wage Subsidy and Leave Payment schemes.
If you become unwell and would need to stop caring while you recover, what alternative care arrangements are needed? This would be a difficult situation for many carers and those they support – for them, life cannot simply be put on hold. Read our advice on creating a contingency plan. For example, you can ensure key information is made readily available for professionals.
Tell your GP that you are a carer
If you haven’t already done so, tell your GP that you have caring responsibilities. Under current circumstances, it is best to call if possible, rather than arrange a visit. They can then update these details on your medical records. If you have a good GP, they will provide as much information and support as possible to help you feel more confident in your caring role. However, you may have to ask. Some things to think about:
- arranging home visits if it is difficult to attend in person
- arranging ‘double’ appointments for both you and the person you care for at the same time
- arranging for repeat prescriptions to be delivered to your local pharmacy to save you picking them up, or options which deliver direct to your home or the person you care for
- providing supporting letters and information in order to access available services
Carers NZ partners with Student Volunteer Army for extra peace of mind
If you are concerned about the isolation in the weeks ahead, should the COVID-19 virus affect services, deliveries, or staying connected, register your details with Carers NZ. We have partnered with IHC, the Student Volunteer Army, and others to help carers. We will be launching a new support initiative this week.
People who register will be partnered with a volunteer who will stay in touch, and give practical assistance where possible. Level 4 isolation means this help will be limited for now to check-ins by phone and email, and referring/helping if you have a concern.
Know that although we may be practising physical isolation, there are other ways you can connect. If you or someone you care about doesn’t have friends or family nearby, or would like peace of mind through extra support, register with Carers NZ by emailing email@example.com or phone 0800 777 797.
You’ll be matched with a volunteer in your area, and Carers NZ will be sending regular news and updates to keep everyone connected.
COVID-19 – General information
A new coronavirus disease, COVID-19 (sometimes called novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV), has been identified. Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses which cause illnesses such as the common cold, and the more concerning Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Am I at risk?
If you have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please telephone the free Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately. The situation is changing day to day, so keep following reputable sources of information and follow advice to reduce the risk to you and your family.
The situation in NZ is being closely monitored and regularly updated by the Ministry of Health.
Radio New Zealand have a newsletter for COVID-19 updates to which you can subscribe.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Symptoms include:
- difficulty breathing
Difficulty breathing is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have put together a comprehensive FAQ here.
Prevention – how to protect yourself and others
Simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly:
- before eating or handling food
- after using the toilet
- after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping others’ noses
- during and after caring for people who are unwell
Do I need to stay away from others?
The situation in New Zealand is at alert Level 4 from 11.59pm, 25 March Wednesday 2020.
More information on alert levels can be found here
For COVID-19 health advice and information
Call 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453). It is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Callers are able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service. They have access to interpreters.
Use this dedicated number:
- To register if you have self-isolated yourself
- For any coronavirus health advice and information and any questions you have about coronavirus, self-isolation etc.
For more information on caring for yourself and others who have, or may have, COVID-19 at home, download the Ministry of Health’s infosheet.