Hygiene a good protective tool for coronavirus

Hygiene a good protective tool for coronavirus

14 February 2020

The current spread of coronavirus across several continents has the potential to elicit significant anxiety and worry amongst people. 

Human coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses which cause illness in animals and humans, including the common cold, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). 

Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Clinical Manager Martin Mikaere says while New Zealand has not yet had a confirmed coronavirus case, the chances of it making it to New Zealand are high. 

“The good news is that the chances of it spreading around New Zealand are low.  What this means is that we should be prepared and start using the protective tools we have such as good hygiene.”

Dr Mikaere says people need to keep in mind that they are only at risk if they have been around someone who has come from China (not necessarily Chinese) in the last two weeks and who has flu-like symptoms. 

“Conversely being Chinese does not mean they have this disease as they may be from here (NZ) or not been to China themselves in the last two years.” 

Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to a range of other illnesses such as the flu and do not necessarily mean that you have it. These include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, all of which can be also be attributed to other illnesses. If someone is having difficulty breathing they should contact their healthcare provider or ED department immediately. 

Dr Mikaere says commonsense precautions, which are also applicable to viruses such as the flu, should be maintained. This includes practicing good cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing); washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and then drying them thoroughly before eating or handling food; after using the toilet; after coughing, sneezing, blowing your  nose or wiping children’s noses, and after caring for sick people.

The Ministry of Health also recommends people should avoid close contact with individuals who display cold and flu-like symptoms, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth; and avoiding travel if they have fever or cough, if they are immunocompromised, have a chronic illness, or are regularly in close contact with individuals with such conditions.

Dr Mikaere says if a Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki client is concerned that they may have been in contact with the virus, they need to alert the receptionist about their concerns before they come to the clinic and the staff will organise to see them in their vehicle when they arrive. 

“It is important they do not come into the waiting area where there is potential to infect others around them,” Dr Mikaere says.  “Otherwise stay well and remember to be kind.”

The Ministry of Health has offered a dedicated, free phone number for people seeking coronavirus information and advice, self-isolation etc. The number is:  0800 358 5453  and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453

People calling that line will be able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service who has access to interpreters.

If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing,
 please telephone Healthline (for free) on 
0800 611 116.


 Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki

 FREEPHONE 0508 835 676 (0508 Korowai)

Let your Health Care receptionist know before you present to the clinic so that you are not kept waiting with other patients



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The Thames Community-Based Assessment Centre at Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki reopened today to recommence community swabbing for COVID-19. 

CBAC clinics around the country were formally closed down just before Queen’s Birthday Weekend following continued COVID-19 clearance, with GP practices continuing to take swabs as required for their normal enrolled population.

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Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki CEO Riana Manuel says it is important for people not to panic and to remain kind.

“The people who returning from overseas are New Zealanders,” she says referring to the backlash some returning New Zealanders have received from some members of the public.

New Zealand has 1516 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 to date.

Nationally, testing numbers increased this week, with a total of 3402 tests carried out across the country on Monday, more than doubling from 1527 the previous Monday. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 Symptoms are similar to a range of other illnesses such as the flu and do not necessarily mean that you have it. Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, which can be also be attributed to other illnesses.

For more information, go to the Ministry of health website -


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