We would like to update our patients regarding the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet and through social media. We believe that the best way that we can help contain this outbreak is by being as well-informed as possible.
There are many different subtypes of the Coronavirus and they have been in existence for many years. What makes COVID-19 different is that it is a new form of the virus. The outbreak began in China at the end of 2019 and due to global trade and travel, it has spread to other countries. The countries which currently have significant outbreaks are: China, Iran, South Korea, (Northern) Italy, and the Ministry of Health have recommended that New Zealanders refrain from travel to these countries. China has managed to contain the spread of the virus, with more cases occurring in other countries than in China over the past two weeks. There will likely come a time when China will impose restrictions on foreigners entering the country such that overseas visitors do not bring the virus back into China.
Symptoms of infection
The virus causes a fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath. However, a lot of people may have no symptoms at all. It seems children in particular, fall into this category and they often have very mild symptoms or none at all.
The incubation time from exposure to illness is up to fourteen days.
The majority of people who get the infection will not become seriously ill. The number of people who have been infected with the virus and have subsequently died is fortunately, low.
So why are we concerned about COVID-19?
Unlike the common influenza virus, which has been studied for many years, COVID-19 is novel and therefore we do not yet know what path the outbreak will take, and we do not yet have a vaccine to prevent it. The people we should be most concerned about are also the people we are most concerned about every year during ‘flu season: those who are over 65 years old and those who are suffering from chronic medical issues.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is relatively large and heavy and it is spread by someone coughing or sneezing on to a close contact or sneezing on to a surface, which another person then touches with their hands and then touches their face.
Close contact for COVID-19 in the community is defined by:
i) living in the same household or household-like setting such as a hostel as a COVID-19 case
ii) a person who spent two or more hours in the same room eg GP practice or ED waiting room as a COVID-19 case
iii) those seated within two rows either side of a symptomatic case on a plane, bus or train for two or more hours
iv) face-to-face contact of a symptomatic case within 1.5 metres for 15 minutes or longer
So what can you do?
1) stay calm
2) wash hands with soap and dry them well, if you are out and about then a hand sanitizer is OK
3) refrain from touching your face
4) if you are sneezing please sneeze into a tissue then throw the tissue into a bin immediately or sneeze into your elbow
5) wearing a face mask if you are well is not necessary and will not prevent you from catching the virus, however, if you are coughing and sneezing, wearing a face mask may help prevent you from spreading your illness
6) if you are unwell with a flu-like illness then self-isolation is recommended, stay at home and drink plenty of water, rest and take simple pain relief until you are feeling better
7) stay up to date with Ministry of Health updates on COVID-19 on health.govt.nz. We will post updates on our Facebook page and this website. Please watch the helpful video which has been posted on our Facebook page.
8) if you have been advised to self-isolate because you may be a contact of a COVID-19 case then please comply with all instructions.
What to do if you are concerned you may have been infected by COVID-19
*If you have a fever, cough and shortness of breath and you have travelled from areas of concern within 14 days of your symptoms OR you have been in close contact with a person who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 then call us on 8274234 so that we can make arrangements to see you after our staff have protected themselves using personal protective equipment, which will include a face mask, gloves and gown.
*If you do not meet the above criteria please call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS
*Please DO NOT just turn up at the practice
What we will do at Cambridge Family Health
*When you phone us for an appointment our receptionist will quickly ask you if you are wanting to see us due to concerns you may be infected with COVID-19, and if so, you will be advised to remain at home and one of our nurses will call you as soon as possible.
*Patients who phone us and meet the criteria above will be asked to drive up to our side entrance and then park up next to our ambulance bay. A nurse or doctor wearing protective equipment will see them whilst they remain in their car. Testing for COVID-19 will occur if we deem necessary and we will get advice from the Ministry of Health if needed
*We will have larger signs on our front door and windows urging people to stay at home if they have flu-like symptoms and to phone us instead
*We will keep you updated on any new recommendations by the Ministry of Health
*We have switched off the ability to book appointments online using Manage My Health at present so that everyone phoning for an appointment is quickly screened by our receptionists